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A History of 

rhe British Army 






Quae caret ora cruore nostro 


\ 0 / \ 





In order to save space, no authorities have been quoted 
in the text for statements concerning the recruiting, 
strength, and establishment of the Army, or concerning 
the Militia and Volunteers at large ; such authorities 
being set forth at length in the author's supplementary 
volume, The County Lieutenancies and the Army, 1803- 
18 14 (Macmillan, 1909). 

Since it has become necessary in the present volume 
frequently to designate French and occasionally other 
foreign Regiments by their numbers, such numbers are 
printed in the text in Arabic numerals, to distinguish 
them from the British Regiments, whose numbers are 
printed in full. Thus " the Thirty-first " signifies a 
British Regiment ; but "the 31st" a French or other 
foreign Regiment. 


Page 41, line 21, for "Halting there for a day" read "Halting there for two 

Page 144, note. Since this note was printed, the situation of the fort has been 
ascertained, and is inserted in the map. 

Page 201, line 6 from foot, for "Act of the 27th of May" read "nth of 

Page 292, line 17 from footer "on the 13th of December the Treaty" read 
" on the 15th of December the Treaty." 



The East Indies 


French Limits under the Treaty of Amiens ... 3 

Designs of Bonaparte in the East Indies . . . -4- 
The Mahrattas threaten British Power in India . .5 
Divisions among the Mahratta Chiefs . . . . .6 

Treaty of Bassein and its Results ...... 7 

British Force assembled under Sir Arthur Wellesley . . 7 
Sir Arthur Wellesley's Supply System ..... 8 

His Troops occupy Poona and restore the Peishwa . . 9 
Dilatory Negotiations with Scindia . . . . .10 

Wellesley's Preparations for War . . . . . .11 

His Impatience for Action . . . . . . .12 

The Viceroy's Plans for the Campaign . . . . 1 3 

Position of the Troops under Generals Wellesley and 

Stevenson . . . . . . . . 14, 15 

Storm of Ahmednuggur . . . . . 16-18 

Stevenson's Irresolution in face of the Enemy . . .19 
Manoeuvres of the Contending Armies .... 20,21 

Wellesley separates from Stevenson . . . . .22 

Strength of the Mahratta Army encamped at Assaye . -23 

Wellesley's Force for the Attack 24 

Battle of Assaye ......... 29 

Losses in the Action on both Sides .... 3 3-34 

Pursuit of the Mahrattas after Assaye . . . . -35 




Pursuit of the Rajah of Berar by Wellesley . . . 36 
Armistice with Scindia agreed upon . . . . -37 

Battle of Argaum 38 

Description of the Fort of Gawilghur .... 4 1 -42 

Storm of Gawilghur ....... 4 3 -44 

Operations against Cuttack ....... 45 

Treaty with the Rajah of Berar . . . . . -45 


The East Indies 

Lake's Plan of Campaign against the Mahrattas 

. 4O 

Dispositions of Lake's Forces 

• 47 

March of the Army to Aligarh 

. 48 

Assault and Capture of Aligarh 


Mishap of the British at Shekoabad 

• 52 

Perron quits Scindia's Service 

• 53 

Battle of Delhi .... 


Losses of the British 

. 56 

Capture of Agra by the British 


Lake's Pursuit of the Mahrattas under 

Abaji m . 

• 59 

Battle of Laswaree 


Heavy Losses of the British . 

. 66 

Criticism of the Action 

. 67 

The Rajah of Bhurtpore and Others conclude Alliances 


. 68 

Capture of Baroach by Woodington 


Treaties of Peace with Scindia and Ra 

gogee . 

• 6 9 


The East Indies 

Threatening Attitude of Holkar towards the British . 70-71 
Relations of Lake and Holkar ... . . . -72 

Remarkable March of Sir Arthur Wellesley against Freebooters 73 

1 /^T^"\TnPT7 \TTC 


Sir Arthur Wellesley's Preparations for War with Holkar 


• 74 

i His Instructions to Murray in Guzerat .... 

• 75 

Pursuit of Holkar by Lake and Monson 

. 76 

! Capture of Rampoora ....... 


Lake retires with the Main Army to Cawnpore 

• 77 

111 Success of British Operations in Bundelcund 


Monson pursues Holkar southward .... 

. 80 

Feebleness of Murray ....... 

. 81 

Retreat of Murray and of Monson without effecting a Junction 82 

Monson's Disastrous Retreat to Agra .... 


Arthur Wellesley's Criticism of the Retreat . 

. 88 

His Organisation of a Transport-Service 

. 89 

Comparison of Lake and Wellesley as Generals 

. 90 


The East Indies 

Consequences of the Disaster to Monson s .borce . 

. 92 

H/r 1 f" T T 1 1 1 1 t\ rr 

March or Holkar northward to Muttra 

• 93 

Lake s Army for Operations against Holkar . 

• 93 

Vain Attempts of Lake to force a General Action . 

. 94 

Successful Defence of Delhi against Mahrattas 


rursuit of Holkar by Lake ...... 


Rout of Holkar's Cavalry at Furruckabad 


And of his Infantry at Deig ...... 


Losses of British and Mahrattas at Deig 

. IO4 

March of Lake upon Deig ...... 

. IO5 

Siege and Capture of the Fortress of Deig 


Description of the Fortress of Bhurtpore 

. IO9 

First Assault upon Bhurtpore by Lake's Army 

I IO-I 12 

Insufficiency of Lake's Force for the Operations 

• 113 

Second Assault upon Bhurtpore ..... 


Meer Khan's Capture of a Convoy going to Deig . 

. Il6 

Lake successfully brings in a larger Convoy . 


Pursuit of Meer Khan through Rohilcund by Major- 

general Smith ....... 






Further Operations of Murray about Ujjein . . . .120 

Progress of the Siege of Bhurtpore 121 

Third Assault upon Bhurtpore ..... 122-125 
Fourth Assault upon Bhurtpore . . . . .126-128 

Lake retreats from before Bhurtpore 128 

Successes of the British against Holkar . . . . .129 
Treaty between British and the Rajah of Bhurtpore . .129 
Renewal of Troubles with Scindia . . . . 130 

Lord Wellesley is replaced by Lord Cornwallis as Viceroy . 131 
Character and Policy of Corn wallis . . . . .132 
Lake's Final Pursuit of Holkar to the North . . . .133 
Treaty between the British and Holkar. . . . . 134 
Character and Criticism of Lake ..... 135-137 



Relations of Dutch Settlers with King of Kandy . . .138 
Unsuccessful Beginnings of the British Administration in 

Ceylon . . . . . . . . .139 

Overtures of the First Adigar to Governor North . . . 140 

North attempts to negotiate a Treaty . . • . . . 141 

Desire of the Kandians for Independence . . . .142 

Garrison of Ceylon in 1803 . . . . . . .142 

Plan of Campaign for an Attack on Kandy . . . .143 

March of Macdowall's Column to Kandy . . . 143-146 
Moottoo Sawmy accepted as King of Kandy by Macdowall . 147 

Failure of the British to capture the Fugitive King at Han- 

garamkatty . . . . . . . . .148 

Difficulties of North and Macdowall . . . . . 149 

Negotiations of North with the First Adigar . . . .150 

Return of Macdowall's Force to Colombo . . . .150 

Garrison of Kandy attacked by Fever . . . . -151 

Failure of the Negotiations . . . . . . 151 

Ravages of Fever throughout Ceylon , . . . .152 

British Garrison at Kandy isolated . . . .152-153 



The Kandians attack the City . . . . . . 153 

The British evacuate Kandy under a Convention . . . 154 

Their Retreat arrested by the Kandians . . . . 1 5 5 

Massacre of the Captured British Garrison . . . 155-156 

Unsuccessful Attacks on various British Posts . . 156-157 

North appeals to India for Reinforcements . . . . 157 

Further Raids of the Kandians upon British Posts . . 158-159 

North's System of Counter-raids . . * . . 159, 160 

Squabbles among the British in Ceylon ; Resignation of North 161 

Governor Maitland restores Discipline . . . . .162 

His Negotiations for the escape of Davie . . . .163 

Davie's Letters and Fate . . . . . . .164 



The Militia Act of 1802 167 

Military Estimates and Establishment in 1802 . . .168 
Bonaparte annexes Piedmont and Parma . . . .169 

French Intervention in Switzerland 170 

Strained Relations between England and France . . 171 
British Naval and Military Estimates in December 1802 . 172 
C. J. Fox proposes a Reduction of the Military Forces . 173 
Bonaparte's Threats against England . . . .174 
England declares War, May 1803 175 

The First Consul orders the Detention of all Englishmen 

then in France . . . . . . . .175 

The West Indies 

British Successes against the French Fleet at St. Domingo 176-177 

Demoralisation of the French Officers in the West Indies . 178 

Recapture of Guadeloupe by the French . . . .179 

Mutiny of the Eighth West India Regiment at Dominica 1 80-1 81 

British Forces in the West Indies at the Outbreak of War 1 81-182 

Capture of St. Lucia by the British . . . 4 .183 

Capture of Tobago . . . . . . . .184 



Difficulties of the Commander-in-chief in the West Indies 
Plans of Ministers for Capture of Dutch Colonies 
Demerara and Essequibo surrender to the British 
Capture of Surinam by the British .... 
Admiral Duckworth attacks Curacoa without Success . 
Review of the Operations in the West Indies 

. 184. 
. 185 
. 186 

9 2 



Weakness of the French Fleet at the Declaration of War 
The French invade Hanover ..... 
Bonaparte lays the Foundation of the Continental System 
His Plans for the Creation of a Flotilla to invade England 
Dispositions of the British Fleets . 
Possibilities of a British Offensive Movement 
Provisions of the Militia Act of 1802 . 
Evils of the Volunteer System under Pitt 
The Volunteer Act of 1802 
The Government's Unsatisfactory Treatment of Volunteers 
Serious Condition of the Militia ; further Militia Acts 
Parliamentary Criticism of Addington's Defensive Policy 

The First Defence Act 

New Regulations for Volunteers ; the June Allowances 
The Additional Force Act creates the Army of Reserve 
Criticism of the Act . 
The Levy en Masse Act 
Additional Regulations for Volunteers 

Allowances .... 
The Billetting Act, and its Consequences 
Difficulties of Ministers with regard to Volunteers 
Yorke's Attempts to settle Disputed Points . 
Summary of Addington's Defensive Measures 
Rise in the Price of Substitutes . . . 
Confusion in the Volunteer Force 


the August 





l 9S 
■ 197 
• 199 


. 209 
. 210 
210-21 1 
. 211 



Question of the Volunteers' Right of Resignation . 213-214 
Difficulty of Arming the Volunteers .... 214-215 

Criticism of the Volunteer Force . . . . 215-216 

Napoleon's Scheme for the Invasion of England . . .216 
Impracticability of this Scheme . . . . . .217 

Serious Shortage in all Divisions of the British Forces . . 218 
The Volunteer Consolidation Act, 1804 . . . .219 

Craufurd's Wholesale Condemnation of the Volunteer System 220 
Question of Pay and the New Volunteers . . . 221-222 
The Volunteers on Permanent Duty . . . . .222 

Yorke's Measures for the Augmentation of the Regular 

Army . . . . . . . . .223 

Last Occasion of " raising Men for Rank " . . . .224 

Ill-success of this Method of Recruiting . . . .225 

Pitt's Attack on the Government leads to Addington's 

Resignation . . . ... . - . 225-226 



Formation of Pitt's New Ministry .... 227-228 

The Volunteer Consolidation Bill becomes Law . . .228 

Pitt's Scheme for the Maintenance of the Regular Army . 229 

His Permanent Additional Force Bill . . . . .230 

Criticism of the Bill in Parliament . . . . .231 

Organisation of Land-transport Service in Britain . . 232 

Plans for the Fortification of the Country . . . .232 

Dumouriez's Schemes of Defence . . . . 233-234 

Napoleon's Difficulties with his Flotilla . . . 234-235 

British Attack on Boulogne; the Stone Expedition . .235 

Feebleness of the French Navy . . . . . .236 

Napoleon's New Plans of Invasion . . . . .236 

British Design for an Attack on Ferrol . . . .237 

Spain declares War on England . . . . . .238 

Napoleon's Plans for a Raid upon the West Indian Islands 238-239 



Failure of Pitt's Additional Force Act . . . 239-240 
Bill for Enlistment from the Militia into the Army . . 240 
Napoleon's Allies among the European States . . .241 
Objects of Pitt's Foreign Policy ; Beginning of the Third 

Coalition ......... 242 

Efforts of Napoleon to check the Formation of a Coalition . 243 
Treaty between England and Russia .... 243-244 

Counter-actions of Napoleon in Italy, Holland, and Portugal 244 

The West Indies 

Missiessy's Raid upon the West Indies 


French Attack on Roseau in Dominica 



Gallant Defence of the Island by Prevost . 


Further Operations of Missiessy ; his Return to Europe 



Anxiety in the British West Indies .... 


Napoleon's Final Plan for a West Indian Raid preparatory 


Invasion of England 


Unsuccessful Organisation of the Invading Flotilla 


The Mediterranean 

Anxiety of British Ministers with regard to Egypt and Sicily 251-252 
Instructions to Craig on Appointment to the Mediterranean 

• 253 

Escape of Villeneuve and the French Fleet from Toulon 

• 254 

Craig and his Force take Refuge in Lisbon . 

. 254 

The West Indies 

Villeneuve sails for Martinique ; Nelson in Pursuit 

• 255 

Plans for Defence of the British West Indian Islands . 

. 256 

Admiral Ganteaume fails to escape from Brest 

. 256 

Villeneuve arrives at Martinique 

• 257 

Nelson and General Myers pursue the French Fleet 

. 258 

Villeneuve's Operations in the West Indies ; his Return 






British Preparations to reinforce the Troops in the West 

Indies ......... 259 

Napoleon's Wild Orders to his Naval Commanders . .260 


Arrival of Villeneuve in Europe ; Indecisive Action with 

Calder 261 

Napoleon's New Orders to Villeneuve . . . 262-263 
The Emperor gives up his Plan of Invasion ; the March to 

Ulm 263 

Discussion of Napoleon's Scheme for Invasion of England 264-265 


The Mediterranean 

Pitt's Scheme of Operations for the Troops of the Allies 266 
Weakness of the British Force despatched to the 

Mediterranean ....... 266-267 

Craig's Force reaches Malta 267 

Proposed Co-operation of Craig with the Russian Force under 

General Lascy 268 

Lascy's Plan of Campaign ; Craig's Criticism of the 

Scheme . 268-269 

Craig's Objections thereto ...... 269-270 

Reinforcement of the French around Naples . . 270-271 
Treacherous Behaviour of the Neapolitan Court . . .271 
Disasters to the Austrians on the Danube culminate in the 

Capitulation at Ulm ...... 271-272 

The United Forces of British and Russians land at Naples . 272 
Disposition of the Allied Forces about Naples . . -273 
Craig and the Archduke Charles . . . . .274 

The Campaign of the Danube ended by the Battle of 

Austerlitz ........ 274-275 

Critical Position of Lascy 275 

Lascy's Proposal for the Defence of Calabria negatived by Craig 276 



The Neapolitan Court attempts to prevent the Retreat of 

the British to Sicily ....... 277 

Criticism of Craig's Expedition ...... 278 

Pitt's Further Plans for Military Operations . . . 279 
Formation of the King's German Legion . . . 279-280 
Possible Spheres of Offensive Action against Napoleon . .280 
Napoleon's Efforts to gain Prussia . . . . .281 

Russia claims Prussia's Alliance ...... 282 

Frederick William's Ultimatum to Napoleon . . -283 
Convention of Britain with Sweden and Russia . . .284 

Expedition to the Elbe 

Proposed Campaign for Recovery of Hanover . . 285-286 
The First Division of Troops sails from England . . . 287 
Harrowby's Mission to Berlin ...... 287 

Dispositions of the French and Prussians in Hanover . . 288 
Squabbles of the King of Sweden with the Russian 

Commander ........ 288 

Dispositions of the British and Russians in North Germany . 289 
The British reinforced and placed under Command of 

Cathcart ...... . . . 289 

Plans of the Allies for the Invasion of Holland . . . 290 
Instructions to Cathcart ...... 290-291 

Napoleon's Reception of Prussia's Ultimatum . . . 291 
His Counter - ultimatum after Austerlitz ; Treaty of 

Schonbrunn ........ 292 

Further Reinforcement of the British Troops in Germany . 293 
Effect of the Defeat at Austerlitz upon Members of the 

Coalition ......... 294 

Difficulties of Cathcart's Position . . . . 295 

Upon News of the Treaty of Schonbrunn he re-embarks his 

Force ......... 296 

Criticism of the Expedition to the Weser . . . 297-298 
Weakness of Pitt's Military Policy . . . . 299 

Death and Character of Pitt . s . . . . 299-300 






The Ministry of All the Talents 3 QI 

Failure of the Additional Force Act 3 QI 

Windham proposes his Short Service Scheme . . . 302 
Opinions of General Officers with regard to the Scheme . 303 
Windham's Training Act ....... 304-305 

Cape of Good Hope 

Expedition to the Cape under Sir David Baird . . . 306 
Difficulties of the Dutch Commander ..... 307 
Successful Action against the Dutch .... 308-309 
British Occupation of Capetown ; Acquisition of Cape 

Colony 309-310 

South America 

Character of Sir Home Popham . . . . . 3 10-3 11 
Relations of the Adventurer Miranda with British Ministers 3 1 1-3 1 2 
Popham's Scheme for the Capture of Buenos Ayres . . 3 1 3 
Beresford and Popham start upon the Expedition . . 314 
Popham's Idea of capturing Monte Video abandoned . . 315 
Action between Beresford and the Spanish Colonists . . 316 
British Occupation of Buenos Ayres . . . . .317 
Difficult Position of Beresford ; Unsettled Condition of the 

Colony .318 


Results of the Victory of Austerlitz in Europe . . .319 
Frederick William attempts further Negotiations with 

Napoleon . . . . . . . . .320 

New Treaty arranged between Talleyrand and Haugwitz . 321 
Aims of Napoleon's Policy . . . , . . -322 



Negotiations of Talleyrand and Lord Yarmouth . . -323 
Anger in England over the Treachery of Prussia . . -3^3 
Naval War between England and Prussia . . . 323-324. 
Fox's Negotiations with Russia . . . . 324. 
The Russians seize Cattaro ; Anger of Napoleon . . 325 
Treaty arranged between d'Oubril and Talleyrand at Paris . 326 
Napoleon proclaims the Confederation of the Rhine . .327 
Napoleon's Negotiations with England come to naught . 327 
Eagerness in Prussia for War with Napoleon . . .328 
Attitude of Frederick William 328-329 


The Mediterranean 

Disembarkation of British Forces in Sicily . . . '33° 

Advance of the French to the Straits of Messina . . -33° 

Weakness of the Neapolitan Government and Forces . . 331 

Windham's Scheme of Operations on the Adriatic Coast . 332 

Plans of Sir John Stuart for the Defence of Sicily . . 333 

Character of Sir Sidney Smith . . . M . . 3 3 3~3 34 

Defects of the French Force at Naples . . . • 334 

The Defence of Gaeta 334 

Sidney Smith captures Capri 335-336 

Plans of Stuart and Smith for a Descent upon Calabria . 336-337 

Relations of Sidney Smith with the Court of Naples . 337 

Stuart's Force for the Expedition to Calabria . . 338-339 

Disembarkation of the British at St. Euphemia . . . 340 

Squabbles of Stuart and Sidney Smith 341 

Reynier leads the French northwards against Stuart . .342 

Battle of Maida . . 343~35° 

Failure of Stuart to follow up his Victory . . . 350-351 

Arrival of Sidney Smith at St. Euphemia . . . 352 

Losses of the British and of the French at Maida . • 353 

Discussion of the Tactical Principles of British and French 

Troops 354-355 


irther Operations of Stuart and Smith 
Smith incites the Calabrese to Insurrection . 
British Successes in Southern Italy 
Discreditable Behaviour of Sir Sidney Smith 
Surrender of Gaeta to the French 
Return of Stuart to Sicily ; his Lack of Initiative 
The British harass the Retreat of Reynier's Army 
Result of Stuart's Expedition ..... 
General Fox appointed to command in the Mediterranean 
Unsatisfactory Position of Affairs in Italy and Sicily . 
Projected British Expedition to Portugal 
Overthrow of Prussia at Jena ..... 




• 357 

• 358 

358- 359 

359- 36o 
. 361 
. 362 

■ 363 
. 364 
. 367 
. 368 


South America 

Reinforcements sent by Baird to Buenos Ayres . . 369 
Attack of the Spanish Colonists upon the British . . . 370 

Beresford obliged to capitulate 371 

The Capitulation repudiated by the Colonists ; and the 

British carried as Prisoners into the Interior . . .372 
News of the Original Capture of Buenos Ayres reaches 

England 373 

Despatch of Auchmuty with Reinforcements for Beresford 373-374 
Criticism of the Action of Ministers with regard to this 

Expedition 375 

The British occupy Maldonado 376 

Windham's Extraordinary Scheme for the Reduction of Chile 377 
Lord Grenville's Plan for an Attack upon Mexico . -378 
Despatch of Craufurd on the Chilian Expedition . . -379 
He receives New Directions to proceed to Buenos Ayres . 380 
Arrival of Auchmuty in La Plata .... 380-381 
Siege and Capture of Monte Video .... 381-386 
Attitude of the Colonists towards a British Occupation . 387 
General Whitelocke appointed to command in La Plata . 388 



Instructions to Whitelocke ; he arrives in South America . 389 

Arrival of Craufurd at Monte Video 390 

Attack of the Colonists on the British Garrison at Colonia 390-391 
Difficulties of the Campaign ; Choice of a Place of Disem- 
barkation ......... 391 

Choice of a Line of March ..... 392-393 

Question of Transport ...... 393~394 

Choice of a Time for the Attack on Buenos Ayres . .394 
Evacuation of Colonia by the British 395 

Whitelocke's Mistakes in the Choice of Troops for Service . 396 

South America 

Disembarkation of the British at Ensenada de Barragon . 397 
Leveson-Gower leads the Advanced Guard . . . . 397 
Passage of the Troops through the Swamp . . . -398 

Difficulties of the Commissariat 399 

Lack of Communication between the several Corps of the 

Army . - . . 400 

Lack of Supplies ....... 400-401 

March of the British upon Buenos Ayres . . . 401-406 
First Attack upon the Suburbs of the Town by Craufurd . 407 
False Dispositions of the Spaniards ..... 408 

March of the Main Body of the British under Whitelocke 409-411 
Gower's Plan of Attack, accepted by Whitelocke . .411 
Whitelocke's Known Objections to the General Principles of 

the Scheme . . . . . . . .412 

Bourke's Objections to the Plan . . . . . -413 

Description of the Town of Buenos Ayres . . . 413-415 
Dispositions of the British Troops for the Attack . . . 415 
Obscurity of the General Instructions to Officers . . .416 
Preparations of the Spaniards for Defence . . . .417 

The Attack on Buenos Ayres . 418-426 
Whitelocke's Ignorance of the Course of Events . . 427-428 


A. Truce arranged with the Spanish Commander 
llSummary of the Position of the British 
|The British agree to evacuate the Province 
jReception in England of the News of Failure 
(Trial of Whitelocke by Court-martial . 
Discussion of the Charges against the General 
'Criticism of the British Government's Action in sending out 

the Expedition .... . . . 4.35-4.37 


. 428 
. 429 
. 429 
• 430 

430- 431 

431- 435 


{J 11 at the end, in the order shewn by the numbers.) 

1. Assaye. 

2. Argaum. 

3. Gawilghur. 

4. Aligarh. 

5. Delhi. 

6. Laswaree. 
7- Deig. 

8. India, Campaigns of Wellesley and Lake. 

9. Ceylon (two Maps on one sheet). 

10. Surinam River. 

11. Dominica. 

12. Southern Italy and Sicily, Maida, Capri. 

13. North Germany and Denmark. 

14. Cape Colony. 

15. Rio de la Plata, Monte Video, Whitelocke's March. 

16. Buenos Ayres. 

17. Europe, Peace of Tilsit. 





ln Europe the Treaty of Amiens brought at least a 1802. 
truce ; but east and west, in India and the Antilles, it 
wrought not peace but the sword. The First Consul 
tad gained what he sought — a short breathing-space 
ipon honourable terms. The boundaries of France 
Lad been enlarged eastward to the Rhine, and north- 
ward to the Dutch frontier. Holland itself, under the 
Lame of the Batavian Republic, was subservient to her ; 
md the greater part of Northern Italy was either 
tctually French territory or dominated by French 
influence. The French Republic within her new limits 
now counted a population of forty million souls ; and 
with all these vast acquisitions in Europe she still 
retained the Colonial Empire of the Monarchy. Her 
East Indian settlements were, under the Treaty, to 
be restored ; in the West Indies Martinique and 
Tobago were to be again hers, as also was St. Domingo 
if she could obtain possession of it. Finally, at her 
head was the man who, after twice raising her from 
deep depression to dazzling glory, had restored law 
and order, confidence and credit, and, still insatiable in 
energy and ambition, was maturing his designs for the 
conquest of a great empire over sea. 

The conquest of his dreams was that of India, and, 
as a means to that end, of Egypt. Nelson had turned 
his first expedition to the valley of the Nile into a 
disaster, and Sidney Smith and Abercromby had 
deepened the disaster into a humiliation. His vaunt- 
ing letter to Tippoo from Cairo had also received a 



1802. crushing answer in the storming of Seringapatam and 
the overthrow of Hyder Ali's dynasty in Mysore. But 
still the man clung to his vision of the tricolour flying 
supreme in the Mediterranean, and of French domina- 
tion substituted for English in India. Thus it was in 
September 1802 he sent General Sebastiani to Algiers, 
Egypt, Syria, and the Ionian Islands with orders to take 
note of every military detail, and to sound the disposition 

1803. of the natives. In January 1803 Sebastiani returned 
with a bombastic report that the capture of Egypt 
would be child's play, and that the Ionian Islands were 
only waiting for an opportunity to declare themselves 
French. Meanwhile, to undermine still further British 
power in the East, Bonaparte had appointed in June 
1802 two even more formidable agents. The first was 
Cavaignac, an old member of the Convention, who was 
charged with a mission to the Imaum of Muscat. The 
second was General Decaen, who bitterly hated the 
English, and thirsted for the chance of meeting them 
in the field. In title Decaen was merely Commander- 
in-Chief of the small French force in the East Indies, 
entrusted with the special duty of receiving back the 
captured French settlements from the British ; and the 
troops that were to accompany him wfre no more than 
a garrison for those settlements, little exceeding one 
thousand men. 1 But the Consul's secret instructions 
showed designs of far wider extent. While acting 
always with carefully simulated gentleness and simplicity, 
Decaen was to inquire as to the strength and disposition 
of the British forces, and as to the natives that were 
most impatient of British rule. He was to think 
out in every detail the best method of carrying on 
a war of several campaigns in India, even without 
command of the sea ; and, above all, he was to find a 
suitable base, with a port which could be defended 
against a hostile fleet. "Your mission" (so ended the 
document) " is, for military and political purposes, one 
of observation . . . but the First Consul, if you faith- 

1 Corres. de Napoleon, 6208, Letter to Decres, 25th July 1802. 


fully fulfil his instructions, may perhaps be able 1803. 
to put you in a position to gain the great glory 
which prolongs the memory of men beyond the lapse 
of centuries." 

The date of these secret instructions was the 1 5 th 
of January 1803, and in them occurs the expression, 
" unless war breaks out before the end of September 
1804," which, elucidated by parallel passages in 
Napoleon's correspondence, shows that he was reckon- 
ing upon that time, and no earlier, for the renewal of 
hostilities. Evidently he counted upon choosing his 
own moment for aggression, with such a man as 
Addington in charge of England ; but even if he had 
reckoned truly herein, which, as events were to prove, 
he did not, he overlooked the presence in India of 
Lord Wellesley and his brother Arthur. The de- 
struction of Tippoo Sahib's power in Mysore had at 
last brought the British and the Mahrattas face to face ; 
and no man of any foresight could doubt that before 
long there would be a desperate struggle between them 
for the mastery of India. The refusal of the Mahrattas 
to take their share in the partition of Mysore had 
sufficiently shown their jealousy and unfriendly feeling 
over the British successes in that province ; and, 
divided though they were among themselves, they 
had begun to realise generally that their chances of 
supremacy were lost unless they could drive the British 
from the country. But this was not all. The French 
officer, Perron, though nominally no more than a 
commander in Scindia's service, was actually his vice- 
gerent in the north, and, while holding the deposed 
Emperor Shah Alum in durance, used the imperial 
name to dignify and strengthen his own authority. So 
great was his power and so wide its range that he had 
already seen visions of an independent sovereignty, and 
he was known to have corresponded with the French 
Directory with the object of obtaining the support of 
the Republic. Thus Wellesley was threatened with a 
resurrection of French rivalry in India, and that not 




1803. under the feeble direction of Bourbon kings, but under 
the active and indefatigable impulse of Bonaparte. To 
the British Viceroy, therefore, the power of the Mahrattas 
signified the power of France. Apart from France he 
was willing to live at peace with them, if by any chance 
a central authority could be established strong enough to 
bind the entire Mahratta Confederacy to fulfil a friendly 
treaty. Then the British dominions would be delivered 
from continual anarchy upon their frontiers. But while 
Perron and his compatriots remained in Scindia's service, 
there could be no trust and no security. 

Nevertheless Wellesley's first essay was towards 
curbing the unruly Mahratta chiefs by restoring the 
authority of the Peishwa. Since 1798 internal dis- 
sensions had brought the whole Confederacy into 
confusion. In that year a family dispute had driven 
Scindia into collision with the Rajah of Kolapore, who 
was already at war with the Peishwa, Baji Rao ; where- 
upon Scindia's rival, Jeswunt Rao Holkar, seized the 
opportunity to ravage his territory. Perron was fully 
engaged with the menace of an Afghan invasion in the 
north, so was unable to help his master ; and Scindia 
and the Peishwa together had much^ado to check the 
advance of the Rajah of Kolapore upon Poona. In 
the midst of the troubles, however, Scindia fell at 
variance with the Peishwa, first over the property of 
the latter's chief minister, Nana Farnavese, who died 
in March 1800; and secondly, over the permission 
granted by Baji Rao for British troops to follow 
Doondia Wao into Mahratta Territory. Meanwhile 
Holkar's depredations became so serious that Scindia 
found himself obliged to repair to Malwa to check 
them. In July 1801 Holkar won two decided suc- 
cesses, and, though completely defeated at Indore in 
October, soon recovered himself and advanced upon 
Poona. The combined armies of Scindia and the 
Peishwa strove to repel him, but were utterly routed 
before the city itself on the 25 th of October 1802. 
Baji Rao thereupon, fled to the coast, taking refuge in 


la British ship, which conveyed him to Bassein ; and 1803. 

I there on the 31st of December he signed a treaty 
whereby he threw himself upon the protection of the 
British Government, and concluded with it an offensive 
and defensive alliance. Scindia likewise invoked British 

i help to save the Mahratta Confederacy from entire 

\ dissolution ; and hence Wellesley found himself virtually 
the arbiter of the fortunes of the descendants of 
Sivajee. But, as he himself said, a principal object of 
the treaty was to prevent the sovereign power of 
the Mahratta States, or the power of any great branch 

j of the Mahratta Empire, from passing into the hands 
of France. 1 

The treaty of Bassein was accepted by the Peishwa 
in all sincerity, for the unhappy man felt a genuine 
liking for the British, and was as loth to be a tool of 
Scindia as of Holkar. Wellesley, therefore, lost no 
time in assembling a powerful force at Hurryhur on 
the northern border of Mysore, with the double object 
of parrying any invasion by hostile Mahrattas and of 
escorting the Peishwa to his capital at Poona. In Feb. 
taking this step he desired and expected a peaceful 
solution of all difficulties. 2 Scindia was the chief whose 
views were most likely to be adverse to the treaty, and 
whose hostility was most to be apprehended ; and when 
in March Perron asked leave to pass through British 
territory to Calcutta in order to embark for Europe, 
Wellesley heaved a sigh of relief. For it seemed as 
though at least one dangerous element of strife, inter- 
ested alike in Scindia's and Bonaparte's ascendancy, 
might be quietly eliminated. 

Nor was the promise of a peaceful end to all troubles 
belied upon the march of the army from Hurryhur. 
Arthur Wellesley had wisely been appointed to com- 
mand it, and the fame of his recent campaign against 
Doondia Wao was sufficient to ensure him at least a 
fearful deference. But the young General knew already 
that if deference was to be turned to friendship in an 
1 Wellesley Desp. iii. 109. 2 Ibid. iii. 29, 49. 



1803. alien territory, his force must never be a burden upon 
the inhabitants. There must be no excesses, no plunder, 
no marauding, but strict discipline and, as a first means 
to that end, an efficient system of supply. It was this 
last which occupied his attention from the first moment 
when he was ordered to move to Hurryhur. " The only 
mode," he wrote, " by which we can inspire either our 
allies or our enemies with respect for our operations 
will be to show them that the army can move with ease 
and celerity at all times and in all situations." His 
letters of this period teem with calculations as to 
supplies and the cattle that are to draw them ; and the 
famous draft-bullocks of Mysore, which had been taken 
after Tippoo's death into the Company's service, figure 
prominently as one of the chief factors in his army's 
efficiency. There was every prospect of difficulty, for 
the rainfall in the country adjoining the Western 
Ghauts had been scanty during the previous season. 
Forage was hardly obtainable ; the crops had failed ; 
the stricken districts were face to face with famine ; 
even water was wanting in many tanks and streams 
where generally it had been abundant. Yet all these 
obstacles were overcome by his unflagging industry. 
All superfluous baggage was ruthlessly" cut off", and the 
march from Seringapatam to Hurryhur was accomplished 
without injury or fatigue to the cattle ; whereas the 
bullocks of other detachments, under commanders of 
higher rank, fell down in hundreds. Finally, when 
on the 1 2th of March he crossed the Toombuddra 
into Mahratta territory, he was received as a friend 
and a deliverer, and joined by all the local chieftains 
on his march to Poona. 1 

Jeswunt Rao Holkar, who was still in possession of the 
Mahratta capital, retired upon the news of his advance ; 
but Arthur Wellesley continued to move steadily 
northward, and by the 1st of April had crossed the 
Kistna at Erroor, with his cattle still in perfect condition 

1 Wellington Desp. i. 374, 407 ; Supplementary Despatches, iv. 
1-10, 17-22, 26-32, 41-43. 


despite the length of his march. At the same time 1803. 
Colonel Stevenson with the subsidiary forces of the 
Nizam was marching westward from Hyderabad to 
join him; and on the 15th of April the two forces April 15, 
opened communication with each other at Ecklaus on 
the Neera River, some eighty miles east and south of 
their destination. By that time Holkar had reached 
Chandore, nearly twice that distance to north of Poona, 
leaving only Amrut Rao, a pretender to the Mahratta 
throne, with fifteen hundred men to hold the city ; 
and Wellesley, judging it unnecessary to lead a large 
force against so paltry an enemy, decided to extend 
Stevenson's troops over a wider front for convenience 
of forage. Three days later came intelligence that 
s Amrut Rao was preparing to burn and plunder Poona, 
t whereupon Wellesley started with his cavalry on the 

morning of the 19th, and though delayed for six hours April 19. 
by the difficulty of getting his light guns through the 
Little Bhore Ghaut, rode into the Peishwa's capital on 
the morning of the 20th, having traversed sixty miles April 20. 
in thirty-two hours. Amrut Rao withdrew in haste at 
the news of his approach ; the inhabitants, who had 
been driven from their homes by Holkar, hurried back 
to welcome the British General ; the British infantry 
arrived to increase their confidence on the 22nd ; April 22. 
and on the 13th of May Baji Rao was escorted into May 13. 
the city and reseated with great ceremony upon the 
throne. 1 

So far all had gone well. The Peishwa had been 
reinstated, but it remained to be seen whether his 
authority could be re-established ; and various symptoms 
indicated that the prospect was not altogether promising. 
In the first place, Perron had not left India, as had been 
expected ; and in the second, Wellesley, on the 30th May 30. 
of May, had received despatches from the British 
Government forbidding him to restore the French 
and Dutch possessions in India until further orders, 
all stipulations of the Treaty of Amiens notwith- 
1 Wellington Desp. i. 457, 493, 505. 

io HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

i8o 3- standing. 1 This pointed to the near prospect of a re- 
newal of hostilities with France, an event which was not 
likely to foster a pacific disposition in Scindia. Never- 
theless, despite the untowardness of the outlook, the 
Viceroy did not seek to precipitate a war before the 
French could take part in it. Long and dreary 
negotiations followed for week upon week after the 
occupation of Poona. Scindia had admitted that the 
Treaty of Bassein was not injurious to him, nor to 
any of the Mahratta feudatory chieftains ; but he none 
the less insisted that Ragogee Bhonsla, the Rajah of 
Berar, should join him to discuss the question. The 
place of meeting was to be on the frontier of the 
Nizam's dominions ; and as the Rajah was to bring 
with him as escort the whole of his army, the pretended 
consultation became in reality a serious menace to a 
faithful ally of the British. Scindia, in fact, told Colonel 
Collins, the British resident, that upon the Rajah's 
arrival he would inform him whether the issue was 
to be peace or war ; but still Lord Wellesley forbore 
to take offence. The armies of the two chieftains 
duly effected their junction near the Ajunta Ghaut, on 
the Nizam's north-western boundary^ on the 3rd of 
June; but several days passed, and still no decision 
June 12. was announced to Collins. On the 12th of June he 
demanded his dismissal, but consented to stay upon 
being pressed by Scindia ; 2 and after this the Mahratta 
chiefs continued to play the game of procrastination 
for two whole months, Collins frequently threatening 
to take his leave, and as frequently postponing his 
departure. The time thus gained was employed by them 
in endeavouring to persuade Holkar to join them in 
war against the British ; and their motive was so trans- 
parent as to be secret to no one. Arthur Wellesley 
in wrath wrote repeated letters to Collins to cut 
the negotiations short, but without effect. Reiterated 
representations were made to Scindia and his ally to 
withdraw their troops, but were utterly thrown away 
1 Wellesley Desp. Hi. 84. 2 Wellington Desp. H. 28. 


upon them ; and the negotiations dragged on and on 1803. 
through June and July, as though they would have no 

Throughout this period of suspense Arthur Wellesley 
waited with almost feverish impatience. He had laid 
all his plans with the express object of fighting the 
Mahrattas during the rainy season, when the rivers 
would be high ; and he had many months before 
ordered the preparation of boats and pontoons, which 
would enable him to pass these rivers at any time and 
place, whereas his enemies would be dependent on fords 
which, in time of flood, would be impracticable. With 
this advantage and with his transport efficiently 
organised, he felt confident of success. Scindia 
might fight pitched battles and Holkar might pur- 
sue the more dangerous guerilla warfare which was 
traditional with the Mahrattas, but the young General 
was prepared to cope with either. British infantry 
would be too much even for Perron's best battalions ; 
and the Mysore bullocks would enable him to follow 
Holkar so swiftly that, even though he were not over- 
taken, that wily chieftain would find little time for 
mischief, and would see his following dwindle daily 
from sheer lack of plunder. 

Two circumstances, for a time, reconciled Arthur 
Wellesley to some delay in June, namely the loss of a 
great number of bullocks from bad forage and exposure, 1 
and the failure of the authorities at Bombay to produce 
the boats for which he had asked. This latter was, in 
fact, the beginning of a long series of differences with 
the Governor of Bombay, Mr. Duncan, who for some 
reason was singularly obstructive to the whole of the 
General's arrangements. Recognising the difficulty 
of acting from a base five hundred miles distant at 
Seringapatam, Arthur Wellesley had, as early as January, 
procured the formation of a large depot on the coast, 
which should be at once within easy reach of Bombay 
by water and close to the mouth of the Ghaut that 
1 Wellington Desp. ii. 15, 18, 38. 



l8o 3- leads to Poona ; but he could obtain no cattle to draw 
the supplies from the dep6t to his camp, and the army 
was in great straits for food. Duncan had promised 
him a number of bullocks by the end of May ; but not 
one of them had arrived. He had undertaken to send 
up pontoons, but contrived to despatch them in weather 
which broke down all the carriages after one march. 
Very early Wellesley, giving up the Governor of 
Bombay in despair, sought for an advanced base of 
his own making. His eye fell upon the fortress of 
Ahmednuggur, just twenty miles north of his camp ; 
and inquiry soon showed that he had seen aright. " It 
is full of everything we want " ; he wrote on the 16th 
of June, " the property of this country is lodged there. 
The capture of that place will retrieve our immediate 
distresses and will give everybody spirits." From that 
day forward information as to Ahmednuggur was 
eagerly gathered ; and the General fully decided that 
the capture of the fort must be the first operation of 
the war, if war there should be. 1 But the favourable 
months kept slipping away without the slightest 
apparent approach to a decision, and at last in the 

July, middle of July Arthur Wellesley's patience gave way. 
Collins was still pressing Scindia to withdraw his army 
to Hindostan ; but Scindia showed not a sign of yielding. 
" We ought,' ' wrote the General, in effect, " to have 
insisted on his retiring in May. Since that time six 
valuable weeks have elapsed. We have gained nothing ; 
on the contrary, we have consumed our resources. 
Holkar is still north of the Taptee and, even if his 
intentions be hostile to us, cannot join Scindia for some 
time. The swelling of the rivers still protects our 
frontier and exposes that of the enemy. Every day's 
delay deprives us of this advantage, and therefore no 
time should be lost." An amusingly insolent rejoinder 
of the Mahratta chiefs to a reiterated request for the 
withdrawal of their armies at last brought matters to a 
crisis. On the 3rd of August Collins quitted Scindia's 
1 Wellington Desp. ii. 10, 27, 36, 39, 40, 47, 97. 


camp, and the fate of the Mahratta Empire was 1803. 
committed to the hazard of war. Au 2- 3- 

The Viceroy's plans for the campaign had for some 
time been matured, and he had resolved to carry the 
war into every part of the enemy's dominions. The 
principal forces to be faced were the joint armies of 
Scindia and of the Rajah of Berar in the Deccan, and 
the main army of Scindia commanded by Perron in the 
north. The former, which still lay about the Ajunta 
Ghaut, numbered in all about fifty thousand men 
with one hundred and ninety guns : of this force thirty- 
eight thousand were cavalry, ten thousand five hundred 
regular infantry, and a thousand rocket-men and match- 
lock-men. In the north Perron, who had fixed his 
headquarters at Coel, about fifty miles north of Agra, 
was at the head of about thirty-five thousand men, 
including from sixteen to twenty thousand horse, with 
a very large and well-appointed train of artillery. 

To oppose these hosts there were formed two 
principal armies : the northern under General Gerard 
Lake, the hero of Linselles in 1793 an< ^ tne obedient 
tool of Dublin Castle in 1798 ; the southern under 
Arthur Wellesley. Lake's headquarters were at Cawn- 
pore, and the troops under his immediate command 
numbered ten thousand five hundred men, including 
three regiments of British cavalry and one battalion of 
British infantry. In addition to this force, between 
three and four thousand men were assembled near 
Allahabad for the invasion of Bundelcund ; about two 
thousand more were collected at Mirzapore to cover the 
city and province of Benares, while other detachments 
guarded the frontier from Mirzapore over three hundred 
miles eastward and southward to Midnapore. 

Arthur Wellesley's charge was the greater and more 
onerous. First, on the eastern coast a force of close 
upon five thousand men, including about six hundred 
European troops, was assembled at Ganjam under 
Lieutenant-colonel Harcourt to invade the province of 
Cuttack and the possessions of the Rajah of Berar. 


l8o 3»This column was to act independently. Secondly, on 
the west there were in Guzerat and Surat nearly three 
thousand British and nearly four thousand native 
infantry, affording, after all garrisons had been provided 
for, a field-force of rather more than four thousand 
men. 1 This was parted into two divisions, each about 
two thousand strong, the first being posted north of 
the Nerbudda at Baroda, and the second south of the 
Taptee between Surat and Songhur. Arthur Wellesley 
had particularly insisted upon the importance of 
Songhur itself, which lies fifty miles to eastward of 
Surat and commands a Ghaut which leads down to that 
city. 2 Both divisions were designed to operate east- 
ward against Holkar, if he should declare war, and 
in any case to capture Baroach and the possessions 
of Scindia in their vicinity. Both were placed, at 
Arthur Wellesley's request, under the command of 
Colonel John Murray, and he had reason to regret his 
choice both then and later. For this was the Murray 
who, having done good service as Baird's Quartermaster- 
general in Egypt, was destined in the Peninsula to 
wreck Wellesley's plans at the passage of the Douro, 
and to bring himself to disgrace at Tarragona. 

Thirdly, there was the army under Jtrthur Wellesley' s 
personal command, just over eleven thousand strong, 
including over sixteen hundred Europeans, but exclusive 
of some five thousand Mysore and Mahratta horse. 
In addition to this force, and forming almost a part 
of it, was the Hyderabad contingent under Colonel 
Stevenson, numbering over nine thousand men, of 
whom nine hundred were Europeans. Wellesley's 
headquarters at the outbreak of the war were at 
Walkee, eight miles south of Ahmednuggur, 3 towards 
which fortress he had for some days past been slowly 

1 H.M. 65th, 86th, and Royal Artillery . . . 1677 
Two battalions each of the 1st and 6th Bombay N.I. . 2604 

2 Wellington Desp. ii. 156-159. 

3 Six miles is the distance named by himself {Well. Desp. ii. 
173). Grant Duff, Hist, of the Mahrattas, iii. 168, gives the figure 
at eight miles, which seems more correct. 


advancing, as the sands of the long negotiation gradually l8o 3' 
ran out. Stevenson was still guarding the various 
passes on the northern frontier of the Nizam's dominions 
about Aurungabad. As a reserve for Arthur Wellesley 
a force of over eight thousand men, together with large 
quantities of supplies, had been assembled at Moodgul, 
a little to the south of the River Kistna, under General 
Stuart ; but the arrival of new garrisons for the French 
settlements had caused Stuart himself to return to 
Madras, and a part of his troops to be sent down to 
the Carnatic. The reserve was thus reduced to about 
four thousand men, of whom over twelve hundred were 
Europeans, and the remainder natives. In all, the 
British force assembled in India numbered, including 
the garrisons at Poona and Hyderabad, nearly fifty 
thousand men. 1 

1 Wellesley's Army — 

Cavalry. H.M. 19th Dragoons . . .384 
4th, 5th, 7th Madras N.C. . . 1347 


Artillery . . . 173 

Lascars and Pioneers . . . . 10 10 
Infantry. H.M. 74th and 78th . . . 1368 
i/2nd, 1 and 2/3rd, i/8th, 2/1 2th, 

2/i8th Madras N.I. . . .5631 



Add \ for Officers, Sergeants, etc. . .. . 1240 

Total . . 11,153 

Stevenson's Army — 
Cavalry. 3rd and 6th N.C. ..... 909 

Artillery . . . . . . .120 

Lascars and Pioneers . . . 488 



Infantry. H.M. Scotch Brigade . . . 778 
1 /6th, 2/7th, 2/9th, 1 and 2/1 ith 61 13 


Add £ for Officers, Sergeants, etc. . - . 105 1 



16 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1803. On the 6th of August Arthur Wellesley received 
Aug. 6. news 0 f the final rupture with Scindia ; but foul 
Aug. 8. weather made the roads impassable until the 8 th, on 
which day he moved northward, pursuant to his long- 
cherished design, upon Ahmednuggur. This stronghold 
consisted, as usual, of a peitah or fortified native town 
and a fort proper, the two being about half a mile 
apart. The pettah, which was very large, was sur- 
rounded by a strong wall, without a ditch, but very 
neatly built and rounded off at the top so that it was 
hardly broad enough for a man to stand upon. It had 
twelve gates, without detached works, also some forty 
bastions at intervals of about a hundred yards from 
each other, of which eight were large enough to 
mount two guns, and the rest were loopholed. Within 
were many high buildings with narrow streets and mud 
walls shutting off various enclosures, all of which 
contributed to make a formidable defence ; and the 
garrison consisted of one thousand of Scindia's regular 
infantry with five small field-guns, and one thousand 
Arabs ; the whole being under the command of three 
French officers. Altogether its capture to an ordinary 
man would have seemed no easy matter. 

The General had already selected *the leaders of his 
storming parties ; and on arriving before the pettah^ the 
walls of which were seen to be crowded with men, he 
halted at long cannon-shot, reconnoitred the place, and 
directed an escalade to be attempted at three different 
points. According to the rule then observed in all 
marches in India, the advanced guard was composed of 
one half-company from each battalion of infantry, 
forming the picquets coming on duty under the field- 
officer of the day ; and to this body, reinforced by the 
flank-companies of the Seventy-eighth, was entrusted 
the left attack. The right column was composed of 
the flank companies of the Seventy- fourth and a 
battalion of Sepoys 1 under Captain Vesey, and the 
centre column of the battalion - companies of the 
1 i/3rd Madras N.I. 


i Seventy - fourth and another battalion of Sepoys, 1 1803. 

under Lieutenant-colonel Wallace. The left column, 

"1 commanded by Colonel Harness, reached the walls first, 

J- planted its ladders, and strove with the utmost gallantry 

Id to force its way into the town ; but the men were 

n hurled down as fast as they ascended, and after ten 

le minutes abandoned the attempt, the Seventy -eighth 

r< having lost six officers killed and some fifty men killed 

7 and wounded. Vesey's men were delayed by an 

is elephant from the artillery train, which took fright 

d and ran down through the middle of them, scattering 

y them in all directions. They soon reformed, however, 

n and planted their two ladders at a re-entering angle 

0 formed by one of the bastions, when there was such a 
n rush to be foremost that one of the ladders was broken 
d down. The men, however, swarmed up the other, and 
h the flank-companies of the Seventy-fourth, with about 
e two hundred more, had surmounted the wall when the 
ir only remaining ladder was smashed by a cannon-shot, 
d and Vesey was left alone with three hundred men. 
e Without hesitation his party swept the enemy out of 
jf the streets adjoining the wall, until they reached a gate 

which had been marked out as the point of assault for 

s the central column. Heavy firing announced that 

e Wallace had already begun his attack ; the gate was 

e opened to admit his troops ; and the two parties 

1 uniting soon drove the whole garrison out of the town 
t with very heavy loss. Few of the enemy reached the 
1 fort, the bulk of them flying in other directions ; and 
f by three o'clock in the afternoon the British were in 
, comfortable possession of Ahmednuggur at a cost of 
- about one hundred and twenty killed and wounded. 

e The effect of this attack was great. " These English 

i are a strange people and their General a wonderful 

f man," wrote a Mahratta chief from Wellesley's camp 

1 after the action. " They came here in the morning, 

e looked at the pettah-wall, walked over it, killed all the 

1 garrison, and returned to breakfast." On the following Aug. 9. 
1 i/8th Madras N.I. 

1 8 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1803. day the General reconnoitred the fort; and on the 
same evening seized a favourable spot, on which during 
the night he constructed a battery of four eighteen- 

Aug. 10. pounders. At daylight of the 10th these opened fire 
with great effect, breaching two contiguous bastions, 
insomuch that the native commandant presently begged 
for a cessation that he might arrange terms of surrender. 
Wellesley answered that he should continue to fire 
until he should have taken the fort or received its 
submission, and proceeded to batter the walls until on 
the evening of the nth the enemy's hostages for the 

Aug. 1 2. capitulation arrived. On the morning of the 12th the 
commandant marched out with his private property and 
his garrison of fourteen hundred men ; and Arthur 
Wellesley had gained what he needed. The capture 
of Ahmednuggur gave him a fortress which covered 
Poona and the Nizam's western frontier, which cut 
Scindia off from the southern chiefs and controlled all 
his territory south of the Godavery, and which, most 
important of all, provided him with a good advanced 
base with abundance of supplies and stores from which 
to pursue his campaign. 

This, though now forgotten, was a remarkable feat of 
arms, the fall of the fort being undoubtedly due to the 
moral effect produced by the escalade of the town. The 
fort was pronounced, not only by Wellesley himself but 
by his officers also, to be nearly, if not quite the 
strongest, that they had ever seen in the plains of India. 1 
It was nearly circular in form, well built of solid stone, 
with bastions sixty feet high at short intervals, each 
mounting three or four guns, and the whole surrounded 
by a wide dry ditch. The glacis was so high that it 
covered about thirty feet of the walls, but, being of abrupt 
slope, enabled besiegers to find shelter close to the place 
when once the guns had been dismounted. This was] 
the defect of the stronghold ; but none the less it had 

1 It must, however, be remarked that one of his engineer officers 
describes it as a place of no great strength. Twelve Years' Military 
Adventure, p. 133. 


lt | proved too formidable even for Holkar at the zenith of 1803. 
§1 his power. Wellesley mastered both fort and pettah 
'"I in three days at a cost of seventy-nine Europeans and 

e sixty-two natives killed and wounded. 1 

i The General halted four days at Ahmednuggur to 

d arrange the details for the protection and administration 

r - of the captured territory. Meanwhile a report came 

e that Holkar was on the march to join Scindia ; and, as 

ts though to confirm it, a party of irregular horse passed 

1 the Ajunta hills, apparently to make a raid upon the 

e Nizam's dominions. Stevenson, as is not uncommon 

e with a general who has a wide front to watch, became 

I uneasy and irresolute, being anxious for his convoys and 
it communications. First he moved back, then he moved 
e forward, forming elaborate plans for shielding from 
d attack the supplies that were on their way to him. 
it Wellesley could hardly suppress his impatience. " Keep 

II your infantry in a central situation and let your supplies 
>t collect on them," he wrote ; " move forward yourself 
d with the cavalry and one battalion, and dash at the 
h first enemy that comes into your neighbourhood. You 

I will either cut them up or drive them off. ... A long 
if defensive war will ruin us. . . . By any other plan 
ej than that above proposed we shall lose our supplies, 
.e| do what we will." Poor Stevenson endeavoured to 
it mend his ways, but still could not refrain from a slight 
e movement rearward which brought his young chief's 
! hand down upon him once more. " Depend upon it 
"I that no straggling horse will venture to your rear so 
h long as you can keep the enemy in check and your 
d detachment well in advance. Dash at the first fellows 
it that make their appearance, and the campaign will be 
)t our own." 2 The chase of Doondia Wao had not been 
:e thrown away upon Arthur Wellesley. 

is Meanwhile by the 17th of August his cavalry had Aug. 1 
d reached the Godavery ; and on the following day he 

1 The foregoing account is based on Well. Desp. ii. 193, 204, 
rs 313, and Welsh's Military Reminiscences in the East Indies, ii. 

' 155-165. 

2 Well. Desp. ii. 208, 210, 21 9. 



1803. was on march with his infantry to join them. The 
river, being swollen by the rains, was very wide, and 
the troops crossed in wicker boats made by themselves 
in the jungle, and covered with bullock-skins. On the 

Aug. 24. 24th Wellesley's headquarters were at Toka, about 

Aug. 29. fifty miles north of Ahmednuggur, and on the 29th 
he reached Aurungabad. The difficulties of the 
campaign seemed to increase with every step. The 
country through which he passed was completely 
exhausted and depopulated ; vast numbers of bullocks 
had died of starvation and exposure ; and though 
there were supplies enough for the troops, and the 
army itself was, as Wellesley said, " in excellent 
marching trim," yet the provision of food for the 
followers appeared to be impossible. 1 

Meanwhile Scindia and the Rajah of Berar, after 
drawing Stevenson as far east as Jafferabad by a feint 
in that direction, doubled back to westward, entered 
Aug. the Nizam's territory by the pass of Ajunta with 
2 3~ 2 4- their cavalry only, and seemed to be pushing forward 
rapidly towards the Godavery. Though Arthur 
Wellesley had matured all arrangements for repel- 
ling them if they should succeed in crossing that river, 

Aug. 30. he immediately made one march to the eastward from 
Aurungabad, and then turned southward, so as to 
cover at once the advance of his supplies from 
Hyderabad and the Kistna, and to press closely 
upon the enemy if they should continue their advance. 
Sept. 2. By the 2nd of September he had reached Rackisbaum 
on the Godavery ; and on the same day Stevenson, 
who had hurried back to westward, assaulted and took 
the fort of Jalnapore, an isolated possession of Scindia 
some sixty miles east of Aurungabad. The enemy by 
that time had reached Partoor, about forty miles east 
and north of Rackisbaum, where they halted during 

Sept. 3-4. the 3rd and 4th to await the arrival of some of Scindia's 
regular infantry. Wellesley and Stevenson likewise 

Sept. 5-6. remained stationary on those days ; but on the 5th and 

1 Well. Desp. ii. 235, 245. 

CH. I 



iicl 6th Wellesley, finding that the Godavery was by a most 1803. 
::I unusual accident fordable, made two marches eastward 
es SI so as to start level with the Mahrattas in case of a race 
m to Hyderabad. At the same time, being satisfied that 
utl nothing could save the Nizam's territory from a raid 
till except a counter-raid of the British upon Berar, he 
ie| determined at all risks to send Stevenson north-eastward 
ie| by way of Ellichpoor to attack the Rajah's fort of 
[?| Gawilghur, and if possible to plunder Nagpoor. As to 
:;| himself he felt confident enough, for his transport was 
111 now in such perfect order and his cattle and horses in 
ic such excellent condition, that a march of twenty-three 
it miles in a day was an easy matter. 1 
.e Scindia and Ragogee, however, by no means en- 
joyed the vicinity of Arthur Wellesley on the Godavery. 
r " They appear to be very much afraid of this division, 
it and very little so of Colonel Stevenson's," wrote 
J Wellesley ; and accordingly on the night of the 6th Sept. 6. 
ft they broke up their camp and returned to the Ajunta 
Ghaut. Stevenson had unfortunately moved westward 
on the 5th from Jalnapore, which would have been 
an ideal position from which to intercept them ; and 
though on the 6th and again on the 9th he surprised Sept. 9. 
and dispersed two parties of the enemy's horse, yet he 
did them little real harm. In fact he was still nervous, 
and wrote letters to Wellesley alleging doubts as to the 
sufficiency of his army for the raid into Berar, which 
brought upon him at least one very unpleasant reply. 
During the ensuing days both Generals were tied fast 
to their stations by the need for keeping open a 
j passage for their convoys and supplies ; but Wellesley 
comforted himself by the thoughts that Scindia, by 
bringing up his infantry and artillery, would be less 
difficult to overtake and more easily brought to action. 
The infantry duly joined the Mahratta army at Ajunta 
to the number of sixteen battalions, and on the 21st Sept. 21. 
the entire force of the enemy was assembled between 
Bokerdun and Jafferabad. Meanwhile on the 16th 
1 Well Desp. ii. 273-277. 

22 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1803. Wellesley moved eastward up the Godavery to meet 
Sept. 20. his convoy, and turning northward on the 20th met 
Stevenson in consultation at Budnapore, a little to the 
west of Jalnapore, on the 21st. They then arranged c 
to march upon the enemy, Stevenson taking the western 
route and Wellesley the eastern round the hills between 
Budnapore and Jalnapore, and on the evening of the 
24th to attack him with their united forces. 1 

Beyond all question this division of the army was a 
most dangerous manoeuvre, for it left the Mahratta 
leaders free by a small lateral movement to throw the 
whole of their force upon either moiety of the British. 
Wellesley, indeed, was so keenly alive to its faultiness 
after the event that he was careful to defend it, 
before it was attacked, when reporting it to a friend 
who was also a military critic. His excuse then was 
that he thought it necessary thus to separate his force 
into two parts, first to avoid delay in passing through 
defiles, and secondly to ensure that while he was ad- 
vancing northward by one road, the enemy should not 
slip past him by the other. The real truth probably 
was that, knowing Scindia to be afraid of him, he did 
not hesitate to take even the most perilous liberties. 
Sept. 23. On the 23rd Wellesley, on reaching Naulniah, some 
twenty miles north of Jalnapore, learned that the 
Mahratta chiefs had moved off in the morning with 
their cavalry, but that the infantry had not yet marched, 
and was still lying within six miles of his proposed 
encampment. Thereupon, though Stevenson was still 
out of reach, he sent word to him that he meant to 
attack at once ; and having secured his baggage at 
Naulniah, marched forward without further delay. 
Riding on with his staff and the cavalry only, he came, 
at about one o'clock of the afternoon, in sight not of 
the infantry alone but of the entire army of Scindia and 
Ragogee, encamped upon a peninsula formed by the 
rivers Kaitna in their front, and Juah in their rear. 
The Kaitna was impassable except by certain fords ; the 
1 Well. Desp. ii. 284, 289, 295. 



Juah was of smaller volume, but had very steep banks ; l8o 3- 
and the ground along both rivers was much broken by Sept ' 
ravines. The enemy was in great force, for the whole 
of the peninsula was swarming with men. The 
cavalry, numbering twenty or thirty thousand, formed 
the right of the hostile army about the village of 
Bokerdun ; and their encampment extended to eastward 
till it met that of the infantry, which prolonged the 
line to the village of Assaye. Among these last, as 
Wellesley knew, were sixteen regular battalions, amount- 
ing in all to more than ten thousand men ; namely, the 
brigade of Pohlmann, a German, six thousand men ; that 
of Dupont, two thousand five hundred men ; and four 
auxiliary battalions of the Begum Somroo, 1 numbering 
yet two thousand more. With them was a certain pro- 
portion of European officers, though many, especially 
the English, had been enticed away by a proclamation 
which had been issued by the Viceroy at the beginning 
of the war, offering to all Europeans and British subjects 
the same pay as they received from Scindia. Besides 
these regular troops there was a mob of irregular 
infantry belonging to both of the Mahratta chiefs, and 
a good force of regular artillerymen with over one 
hundred guns. Altogether the host must have counted 
from forty to fifty thousand men. 

Wellesley was in an extremely awkward situation. 
He had laid it down as a principle that the Mahrattas 
must never be attacked in a position of their own 
choice, nor on the other hand suffered to attack the 
British, no matter how strongly the defenders might 
be entrenched ; but that they must always be allowed 
to get into motion, whether for advance or retreat, and 
must then be assailed while in the disorder of march. 2 
His information had led him to expect that part of the 
Mahratta army would have been already withdrawn to 

1 The widow of the French officer, mentioned in vol. iii. 64. 

2 Well. Desp. ii. 403-404. The letter to Stevenson in which these 
maxims are laid down is dated Oct. 12, 1803, or more than seven 
weeks after the action ; but it is evident that the plan had been 
thought out beforehand. 

24 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1 803. some distance, and that the rest would be moving off 
Sept. 23. tQ j Q - n t h em< Yet there was the whole of it united, t 
ready, and, as usual, well posted ; for Wellesley freely 
acknowledged that the positions chosen by the 
Mahrattas were always " confoundedly strong and 
difficult of access." His own force consisted of two 
battalions of British and five of native infantry, the 
Nineteenth Light Dragoons and three regiments of 
native cavalry, a battalion of pioneers, and something 
fewer than five hundred artillerymen, of whom one- 
third were Europeans. In all he could put in line 
about seven thousand of all ranks, 1 with but fourteen 
cannon besides the eight light pieces attached to the 
cavalry and known as " galloper-guns." Stevenson, 
whom he had originally intended to join with him in 
the attack, was ten or twelve miles away. If he 
attempted to retire to Naulniah to await him, he 
would certainly be followed and surrounded by the 
enemy's cavalry, harassed until nightfall, and obliged 
either to risk the loss of his baggage or to weaken his 
attack on the following day by detaching a large 
baggage-guard. On the other hand, if he assailed the 

1 Return of rank and file : — 

19th L.D ....... 313 rank and file. 

4th N.C., 5th N.C., 7th N.C. . . . 1145 „ 

European Artillery . . . . 1 54 „ 

Gun Lascars . . . . 323 „ „ 

H.M. 74th 500 „ „ 

H.M. 78th ....... 670 „ „ 

i/ 2 nd N.I., i/4th N.I., i/8th N.I., i/ioth N.I., 

2/l2th N.I 3OI4 

1st battalion Pioneers ..... 605 


Add one-eighth for officers and N.C.O. . 800 

Total . . 7524 
Deduct for baggage-guard say . . . 500 

Final Total . . 7024 

The bulk of the 2nd N.I. (750) reinforced the baggage-guard. 


^IMahrattas at once near the junction of the Kaitna 1803. 
^land the Juah, their straitened position would forbid Se P t * 2 3* 
Cithern to take advantage of their enormous preponder- 
ance in numbers, and he could use the two streams for 
^Bthe protection of his flanks. Of course the defeat of 
10 |his own force in such a narrow tongue of land would 
le |mean its certain annihilation. 

-| That risk he was prepared to take ; but there 
'gjremained still the difficulty that the only ford known to 
--■his guides was commanded by the Mahratta artillery, and 
[ e Ithat consequently the forcing of the passage would be 
n extremely hazardous. Sweeping the line of the banks 
e with his glass, he noticed at some distance to his right 
i) the two villages of Peepulgaon and Waroor close 

1 together on opposite sides of the Kaitna, and, in spite 
s of the denial of his guides, concluded that there must 

2 be a ford between them. A staff-officer was despatched 
: to ascertain the truth ; and during this delay the 
I Mahrattas struck their tents and formed a single line of 
1 battle behind the Kaitna, with the cavalry on their right 

and the infantry on their left. Moreover, two large bodies 
of horse actually crossed the river to make closer 
observation, but kept at a safe distance when they 
found Wellesley's twelve hundred sabres ready to 
meet them. In due time the staff-officer came 
galloping back with the news that the General was 
I correct in his conjecture about the ford ; and orders 
were sent to the infantry, which had been carefully 
kept out of the enemy's sight, to diverge to their right 
and march upon Peepulgaon. The regular cavalry 
covered the rear of the battalions during the move- 
ment, and formed behind them for the passage of the 
river. Wellesley left his irregular horse, part of it 
Mysorean and part of it from the Peishwa's army, to 
keep in check the enemy on the south of the Kaitna. 
He was told, just at this critical moment, that the 
Peishwa's troops intended to turn against him ; but he 
took no notice, rightly judging that they would await 
the issue of the action before they changed sides. 

26 HISTORY OF THE ARMY bookxiii 

1803. As the British infantry drew near to the river 
Sept. 23. enemy's guns opened fire, but with little effect. 
Strange to say, no attempt was made to dispute the 
passage of the ford ; but the crossing took some time, 
for there were difficulties in dragging the guns through 
the water ; and the Mahrattas used the opportunity 
to bring down a battery close to the bank on their own 
side of the river. As the head of the British column 
began to ascend from the ford to the peninsula this 
battery immediately poured upon it a heavy and con- 
tinuous fire, which caused great loss. The head of 
Wellesley's orderly dragoon was carried away by a 
cannon-shot ; the dead body remained in the saddle ; 
and the whole of the staff was scattered by the 
plunging of the terrified horse until at length the 
ghastly burden fell to the ground. However, the 
column filed on, and Wellesley, leaving one of his 
staff-officers to watch the enemy's movements, busied 
himself with the formation of his order of battle. 

Still fully persuaded that he was sure of falling on 
the Mahrattas' flank, he drew up his force in three 
lines. The first line from right to left consisted of the 
picquets, two native battalions, and the Seventy-eighth ; 
the second line, of the Seventy-fourtti and two native 
battalions, and the third of the cavalry, which played 
the part of a reserve. These dispositions had been 
nearly, if not quite, completed behind a slight ridge 
which concealed them from the enemy, when the 
staff-officer came galloping back with the news that the 
Mahrattas were changing position to their left, a 
manoeuvre of which Wellesley had believed them to 
be incapable. The information was, however, correct ; 
and the evolution, though performed unscientifically, 
went forward with perfect order and precision. The 
Mahratta regiments did not break into column, but 
each battalion moved off in line to the new alignment ; 
so that while in motion they presented the appearance 
of an echelon of battalions with the left in advance. It 
was, however, but half of the hostile infantry which 


I moved in this direction, the second Mahratta line 180 
a retiring to the Juah, and there taking up a position Sep 
1 parallel to the river, with its left resting upon the 
[ village of Assaye. 1 

Wellesley, of course, was little concerned as yet 
I with this second line ; but on hearing of the enemy's 
■; change of position, and perceiving that the space 
i between the two rivers became wider immediately 
5 before him, he at once, and rightly, became anxious 
■ for his flanks, and prepared to extend his own front. 
'I With this object he ordered the picquets, which 
: formed the right of his first line, to take ground to 
the right, so as to make room for the two native 
s battalions of his second line on their left. At the same 
: time he commanded the Seventy-fourth to incline to its 
i right hand, and to form on the right of the picquets, and 
directed the cavalry to file up to the Juah for the purpose 
I of protecting his right flank. Strict injunctions were 
given to Colonel Orrock, the officer in command of the 
picquets, that he was on no account to advance upon the 
village of Assaye nor to approach too closely to it. 

The troops were about to enter upon this movement 
when the Mahratta line brought forward guns and 
opened a most destructive fire. The native bullock- 
drivers with the British artillery at once became 
unsteady ; not a few teams were severely maltreated, 
and several cannon which had been advanced to answer 
I the enemy's fire were disabled. Moreover, since the 
enemy's echelon had advanced from its left, the first of 
its battalions to come into action were, of course, those 
opposed to the British right, which was precisely the 
quarter where the alterations in the line of battle 

1 I venture to differ at this point from Colonel Biddulph, who 
makes this movement to the Juah occur in the middle of the action. 
I base my opinion on Notes relative to the late Transactions, pp. 
61-62, Wellington's memorandum on the battle {Desp. ii. 323), 
read in conjunction with the map in the Notes, and on the account 
given in Wellington Suppl. Desp. iv. 185-190, note. But I confess 
that it is with diffidence that I dissent from the view of so high 
an authority. The subject is strangely difficult and obscure. 



i8o 3- were going forward. In a very short time the fire of 
Sept. 23. M anratta guns became so terrible that no troops 
could long endure it ; and Wellesley gave the word to 
advance, ordering the battalions of the second line to 
fall into their appointed places during the movement. 
Even then the picquets were slow in moving off, and 
Wellesley sent an impatient message to ask the cause. 
Orrock's reply was that his battalion-guns were disabled. 
" Then tell him to get on without them," rejoined the 
General ; and presently the advance began. 

Thereupon the enemy 's cannonade redoubled in 
violence. Within a front of less than a mile one 
hundred pieces, admirably trained and very rapidly 
served, poured a tempest of shot upon the British ranks. 
The storm was severest in the centre, where the Sepoy 
battalions, unable to face it, swerved to their left and 
crowded in upon the Seventy-eighth. However, the 
greater part of them advanced rapidly and in good 
order under Wellesley's personal leadership upon the 
enemy's right wing, and, without pausing to fire, forced 
it back without difficulty ; for the Mahratta infantry 
stood only so long as their artillery continued to play, 
whereas the gunners stuck to their guns most gallantly 
to the last, and were actually bayoneted in the act of 
loading their pieces. But even so this infantry was 
thrust back rather than beaten off ; and the enemy's 
centre, being still untouched, presently closed in towards 
the Juah, while one compact division, six thousand 
strong, under the command of Pohlmann, 1 retired in fair 
order direct to its rear, that is to say westward, for 
some distance, when it halted and faced about. So far, 
therefore, all that had been accomplished was the 
capture of the guns on the right wing of the 

And meanwhile at the other extremity of Wellesley's 
line matters had gone disastrously wrong. Colonel 
Orrock, at the head of the picquets, for some reason, 

1 I suspect Pohlmann's brigade to have formed part of a second 
line immediately in rear of the troops which faced Wellesley. 


forgot alike the object of his oblique movement to the 1803. 
right and Wellesley's explicit order to keep clear of Se P t - 2 
Assaye. Possibly he was afraid that his men might 
give way if he attempted to alter the direction, for they 
had lost a third of their numbers before they fired a 
shot ; or possibly he was himself so dazed by the fire 
that he could do nothing but lead on in the same 
direction that he had originally taken. But, be that 
as it may, it is certain that he continued to edge away 
to his right, widening the gap already made in 
Wellesley's centre by the swerving of the Sepoys already 
described, and that the hapless Seventy-fourth, trying 
in vain to take its appointed place upon his right, 
followed inevitably in his wake. Advancing straight 
upon Assaye, the two unfortunate corps were exposed 
to a terrific fire of musketry and artillery ; and, though 
the Seventy-fourth carried the picquets forward for 
some way, yet at length the trial was too severe for the 
native troops. The picquets broke and ran back 
with confusion on to the Seventy-fourth, which 
happened at the time to be in difficult ground among 
cactus hedges ; and while the British regiment stood 
alone, exposed to the concentrated fire of the enemy's left 
wing, a body of Mahratta horse came galloping round 
the village of Assaye and swooped upon its right 
flank, cutting the white soldiers down as only Eastern 
horsemen can cut, with all the terror and havoc of the 

Yet still this glorious band, though reduced from a 
battalion to one strong company, " clung round its 
colours, undaunted and unbroken " ; and it was not 
destined to be utterly swept away. Colonel Maxwell, 
who commanded the brigade of cavalry, was watching 
for the moment to act, and ordered the Nineteenth 
Light Dragoons and the Fourth Native Cavalry to 
advance. The two regiments, therefore, galloped 
forward amid the cheers of the wounded men of the 
Seventy-fourth, swept the Mahratta cavalry before 
them, and bore down swiftly upon the left of the 

30 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

i8o 3- enemy's first line of infantry. These stood firm for 
Sept. 23. a t ' me an( j rece i vec [ the British cavalry with a storm of 
grape-shot ; but the Nineteenth, totally heedless of the 
fire, leaped straight into the midst of them, when the 
whole broke and fled across the river in their rear. 

Meanwhile Wellesley had wheeled up his own left 
wing to the right, in order to attack the enemy's reserve 
by the Juah ; but thereby he necessarily exposed its 
left flank to the hostile cavalry and his right to the fire 
of the enemy's centre, which had faced about to con- 
front him. Maxwell's charge, however, delivered him 
from the danger on his right ; and Wellesley's battalions, 
breaking into double quick time, charged the reserve and 
drove it across the river. The Sepoys began to disperse 
in pursuit, but the Seventy-eighth fortunately stood firm 
and daunted any attempt of the Mahratta horse upon 
their flank ; while Maxwell's cavalry, finding a second 
stream of fugitives added to that already before them, 
dashed over the water, hewing mercilessly among them, 
and for a time disappeared from the field of battle. 

Wellesley then reformed his infantry on the bank of 
the Juah, and found that there was a second engagement 
before him. The enemy's cavalry still hovered round 
him on the west, with Pohlmann's brigade looming in 
more solid menace behind them ; the unbroken infantry 
of their centre and a mass of rallied infantry had formed 
themselves into a huge half-moon with their right 
resting on Assaye and their left on the Juah ; and finally, 
scattered parties of Mahratta troops, some of which 
had feigned death during Wellesley's advance, had 
seized the deserted guns in all parts of the field and 
were playing upon the British rear. Wellesley detached 
first one native battalion and later a second against the 
mass of men round Assaye, but both were beaten back, 
having accomplished nothing. Now, however, the 
cavalry reappeared on the scene, for Maxwell, rallying 
his men from the pursuit, had led them down the bank 
of the Juah to a ford by the village of Borekerry, and 
by that passage had regained the army. The General 


or then ordered the Seventy-eighth and the Seventh Native l8o 3- 
Cavalry to head a fresh attack upon Assaye, and was Sept ' 23 
actually drawing up the former regiment in line when 
his horse was shot under him. The enemy, however, 
did not await the onslaught of the white infantry, 
but retired across the Juah and made good their 

There remained Pohlmann's brigade, and the scattered 
gunners dispersed over the ground formerly occupied 
by the enemy's first line ; and Wellesley, leaving 
Maxwell to deal with Pohlmann, led the infantry to 
secure the Mahratta guns. This last was not ac- 
complished without sharp fighting, in the course of 
which the General had another horse badly injured 
under him by the pikes of Scindia's brave gunners. 
Meanwhile Maxwell led his brigade against Pohlmann's 
column, though its ranks were by this time greatly 
thinned and both men and horses were exhausted by their 
previous efforts. Pohlmann awaited the attack in line, 
and Maxwell led the charge obliquely against his left. 
At the moment of contact Maxwell was struck dead by 
a grape-shot. By a convulsive movement he threw up 
his sword and checked his horse before he fell. The 
squadrons behind him swerved at the movement; and 
the whole body of horsemen, who had acquitted them- 
selves so nobly an hour earlier, edged with increasing 
speed down the whole length of Pohlmann's bayonets, 
crying, " Halt, halt," and finally galloped away. The 
brigade was soon rallied, and retired at a walk ; and 
Pohlmann, whose conduct throughout the day bears 
strong marks of treachery to his master, seized the op- 
portunity to retreat. The Mahratta horse, which by a 
little energy and boldness could have ensured the victory 
to Scindia while Maxwell was on the other side of the 
Juah, lost heart and rode sullenly off. The British 
troops, having marched twenty-four miles before the 
battle began, were in no condition to pursue ; and the 
irregular cavalry of the Peishwa and of Mysore had not 
mettle sufficient to attack an unbroken enemy. At six 

32 HISTORY OF THE ARMY bookxiii c 

1803. o'clock, therefore, the engagement closed, leaving Arthur t 

Wellesley victorious in his first general action. 1 C 

Success was only gained by the most extraordinary 1< 

exertions on the part of every man in the field. Had t 

Pohlmann done his duty he might at least have em- t 

barrassed Wellesley greatly ; and if the Mahratta s 

cavalry had behaved with even a show of spirit, the issue t 

would have been certainly doubtful, and most probably g 

disastrous to the British arms. Colonel Orrock's fc 

unfortunate error in misleading the right of the line was \ 

responsible for the extreme hazard incurred in the fight ; n 

but Wellesley, in consideration of the terrible fire which n 

he faced at the head of the picquets, forgave him for the t( 

blunder. For the rest, though every man, British or b 

native, played his part with superlative gallantry, Assaye h 

presents a roll of valiant deeds which is unsurpassed in v 

our military history. First and foremost, Wellesley 0 

himself was throughout, in the hottest of the fray, calm, ti 

cool, and collected as if at a field-day. He escaped g 

untouched, though, as has been told, two horses were k 
killed under him ; but of his staff" eight out of ten sustained 

wounds to themselves or their horses. His brigadiers, t( 

Harness and Waller, together with most of the members e: 

of their staff* and the mounted officer9»of infantry, also si 

had their horses shot under them. Regimental and ti 

staff-officers vied with each other in heroism. Lieutenant k 

Nathan Wilson of the Nineteenth Hussars had his arm k 

shattered by a grape-shot early in the action, but charged v 

on with the useless limb dangling by his side. With 0 

1 The best account of Assaye known to me is in Twelve Years* P 

Military Adventure, i. 154 seq., which should be read with % 

Wellington Desp. ii. 323-329, 338, 349 ; Suppl. Desp. iv. 185-190 ; a 
Notes on the late Transactions, etc., p. 59; Welsh's Military 
Reminiscences, i. 171 seq. ; Grant Duff's History of the Mahrattas, I 
iii. 169 seq. ; Wilson's History of the Madras Army, iii. 104 seq. ; 
Thorn's Memoir of the War in India ; and Colebrooke's Life of 
Mountstuart Elphinstone, i. 63 seq. All of these have been admirably 
worked up, with some original matter, in The Nineteenth and their 
Times, by Colonel Biddulph, who has most kindly furnished me 
with notes taken by him in the India Office, and other valuable 
material collected by him from private sources. 


^Ithe Nineteenth in the same charge rode a staff-officer, 1803. 

] Captain A. B. Campbell of the Seventy-fourth. He had 
ar :| lost one arm in the Polygar war ; he had since broken 
^ I the other at the wrist by a fall when hunting ; but he 
:n >| took his bridle in his teeth and fought fiercely with his 
M sword in his mutilated hand. Captain George Sale of 
sue the Nineteenth galloped so impetuously at a Mahratta 
gunner, who was in the act of firing his gun, that his 
horse stuck fast between the cannon and the wheel, 
val His covering sergeant, Strange by name, came to his 
rescue, and though pierced through the lungs by a pike, 
not only saved his officer, but rode on with his regiment 
to the end of the day. The Sepoys showed not less 
bravery ; and Wellesley confessed that they astonished 
him. In the first battalion of the Eighth Native Infantry, 
which called itself " Wellesley's Own," five native 
officers and non-commissioned officers of a single dis- 
tinguished family were killed. They were buried in one 
grave, and their comrades refused to mourn over men 
who had died in the performance of their duty. 

But the loss of the British was very severe, amounting 
to nearly six hundred and fifty Europeans and over 
eight hundred natives killed, wounded, and missing ; and 
since most of the wounded were struck by cannon-shot, 
their hurts were very severe. 1 The Seventy-fourth alone 
lost eleven officers and one hundred and thirteen men 
killed, six officers and two hundred and seventy-one men 
wounded. Wellesley never forgot their gallant service 
on this day, and six months later interposed to save from 
the gallows a murderer of infamous character, who was 
also a soldier of the Seventy-fourth, rather than punish 
a member of such a regiment with death. 2 Of the two 

Killed. Wounded. Missing. 
1 European Officers . 23 30 

European Soldiers .175 412 4 

Natives . . .230 696 14 

Totals . 428 1 138 18 = 1584 

2 Wellington Suppl. Desp. iv. 341, 


1803. Sepoy battalions on the right of the first line, one had 
one hundred and seventy-four and the other two hundred 
and twenty -eight casualties. The cavalry brigade, 
besides nearly two hundred men killed and wounded, 
lost three hundred and fifteen horses killed and over 
four hundred wounded. Indeed there have been few 
actions in which horses have suffered so heavily in pro- 
portion to their numbers. The enemy left twelve 
hundred dead on the field ; their wounded were estimated 
at four times as many ; and they abandoned also to the 
British ninety-eight guns. They were hardly treated, 
for their infantry fought well and stubbornly, being by 
Arthur Wellesley's testimony the best troops in India 
next to our own Sepoys. But Ragogee Bhonsla fled 
at the beginning of the action, and Scindia followed him 
soon after ; and with such leaders it was impossible for 
the men to do themselves justice. 

Wellesley's army bivouacked on the field after the 
action, in a state of utter exhaustion after so severe a , 
contest following upon a march of twenty-four miles. 
The cavalry was sent back to bring on the baggage and { 
camp-equipage, but did not return until next morning. , 
And meanwhile the dead were ungathered, the hurt in , 
many cases un tended, and the living 4ay down among 2 
them as they could. Wellesley, overcome by the \ 
reaction after intense strain of mind and body, sank j 
down with the rest upon the ground. Close to him on j 
one side lay an officer whose leg had been shot off; ^ 
close to him on the other was a second officer, dead ; 
but the General sat motionless with his head bent low 
between his knees, and spoke no word to any man. 1 T 
Sept. 24. When morning came it was hoped that Stevenson would . 
arrive, bringing his medical staff" to help the overworked C 
surgeons of Wellesley ; but it was evening before he 
appeared. Like a good soldier he had moved at once 
towards the sound of the cannon, but being misled by j 
his guides had entangled his troops in a defile, so that 

1 Biddulph, p. 145, quoting from a MS. in the India Office B 


they were wearied out with marching. All through the 1803. 
25th he waited in order that his surgeons might give 
assistance ; though even thus it was a week before the 
wounds of all the injured could be dressed. Then 
on the 26th, leaving Wellesley still encamped near the Sept. 26. 
battlefield, he set out in pursuit of the enemy. 

The Mahrattas had passed the night of the 23rd 
within twelve miles of Assaye, but, hearing of Stevenson's 
approach, made off on the morning of the 24th, and 
never stopped until on the same night they reached 
! the foot of the Ajunta Ghaut. As they fled, they 
abandoned or hid several more of their guns, four of 
which fell into Stevenson's hands. Their force then 
parted into two divisious, the regular infantry retiring 
across the Nerbudda, towards which river Stevenson 
followed them ; while Scindia and Ragogee, after taking 
some guns from the fort of Burhanpore, moved west- 
ward along the Taptee, with the intention, as was 
supposed, of marching ultimately southward upon 
Poona. Wellesley until the 8th of October was still Oct, 8. 
occupied in moving his wounded to the fort of Ajunta, 
and in the more welcome task of attracting grain- 
merchants with thousands of bullocks from Scindia's 
army to his own. Upon hearing of the Mahrattas' 
movements he decided that he could not advance to 
northward without risk to Poona or to the Nizam's 
dominions. He therefore ordered Stevenson to take 
possession if possible of the forts of Burhanpore and 
Asseerghur, upon the north bank of the Taptee, and 
himself made a rapid movement from Ajunta south- 
ward towards Aurungabad, halting within one march of 
that town for the best part of a week. On the night of 
the 15th of October he learned that Scindia, finding Oct. 1 5. 
his way to Poona barred, had turned again northward. 
Stevenson was at that moment on the point of reaching 
Burhanpore, which indeed he occupied without resist- 
anceonthe 1 6th, afterwards continuing his advance north- Oct. 16. 
eastward upon Asseerghur. Divining that Scindia's 
sudden change of direction boded no good for Stevenson, 



1803. Wellesley on the 16th marched rapidly northward and 
foiled his enemy's plans for the second time. The fall 
of Burhanpore and Asseerghur, however, signified that 
the last of Scindia's possessions in the Deccan had been 
wrested from him ; and the surrender of sixteen of his 
European officers, upon the terms offered by the Indian 
Government, greatly diminished his power for mischief. 
Wellesley therefore decided that the Rajah of Berar also 
must now feel the weight of his hand, and instructed 
Stevenson to equip himself for the siege of Gawilghur, 
the chief stronghold of Ragogee's government and the 
storehouse of his most precious possessions. 

Hardly had he done so when the news was brought 
to him that the Rajah had separated his force from that 
of Scindia and moved to Chandore ; whereupon, 
directing Stevenson to keep a sharp eye upon Scindia, 

Oct. 24, he reascended the Ajunta Ghaut on the 24th, and 
was again ready to prevent any inroad to the south. 
Marching southward he reached Aurungabad on the 

Oct. 29. 29th, when he turned south-eastward, making Ragogee's 
army shift its position five times in two days by repeated 

Oct. 31. menaces, and at last on the 3 1st came in sight of his camp 
full twenty miles away. On that day one of the Rajah's 
detachments made an attempt upon a British convoy on 
the Godavery, but was beaten ofT ; and Ragogee then 
hurried eastward down the river, having no mind to let 
Wellesley approach him too closely. Wellesley followed 

Nov. 10. him as far as Patree, which lies about one hundred miles 
east of Ahmednuggur, when he turned northward, 
hoping by an invasion of Berar to recall the Rajah from 
his raid to the defence of his own territories. 

Immediately afterwards two events of some import- 
Nov. 1 1. ance occurred. On the 1 ith there arrived in Wellesley's 
camp a message from Scindia to sue for peace ; and on 

Nov. 12. the 1 2th Amrut Rao, Holkar's favoured candidate for 
the throne of Poona, joined the General as an ally of 
the British, with three or four thousand irregular troops. 
The negotiations were carried on during the movement 
of the army northward, which was slow owing to the 


tardiness of the Nizam's government in sending 1803. 
garrisons to occupy the country taken by the British. 
On the 20th of November Wellesley reached Wakud, Nov. 20 
about sixty miles north of Patree, when he turned north- 
westward to Rajoora ; and there on the 22 nd he agreed Nov. 22 
to a suspension of hostilities with Scindia. 

The considerations which chiefly moved him to this 
arrangement were that he could do no more harm to 
Scindia, having already captured the whole of his terri- 
tory in the Deccan ; whereas Scindia's horse could do 
a good deal of harm to him by impeding his operations 
against Berar in general and Gawilghur in particular. 
The only condition, therefore, upon which he insisted 
was that Scindia should retire to some position at least 
fifty miles east of Ellichpoor, and should preserve the 
same distance from any British troops. In return he 
engaged that the advance of the British in Guzerat should 
be kept within certain limits. This done, he turned 
eastward from Rajoora, and entering Berar on the 25th, Nov. 25 
reached Akolah on the 27th, from which two days' 
march due north to Parterly 1 united his army on the 
29th with that of Colonel Stevenson. Nov. 29 

Meanwhile, as might have been expected, Scindia 
had made no attempt to fulfil his part of the armistice 
by retiring to east of Ellichpoor, but had simply 
drawn his cavalry nearer to a large force of Ragogee's 
regular infantry, which was encamped within sight 
of Parterly under the Rajah's brother, Manu Bapu. 
Stevenson therefore had followed Scindia, but judiciously 
halted for a day so as to allow Wellesley to join him in 
the attack. On the morning of the 29th a messenger 
from the Rajah of Berar came to Wellesley to tell him 
that his master's army was only ten miles distant, and 
to entreat him to halt. The General's only answer was 
that if he overtook the army he would certainly attack 
it, and that the messenger had better remain with the 
baggage under protection of the rear-guard. Ascend- 
ing a tower at Parterly immediately upon his arrival, 
1 Or, as some spell it, Pautoorla. 


38 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1803. Wellesley perceived a confused moving mass some five 
Nov. 29. miles distant, but having made a long march on a hot 
day was disinclined to weary his troops with a pursuit, 
However, bodies of Mahratta horse at once appeared in 
his front ; and when these were chased away, in order 
to clear the ground on which he intended to encamp, 
he plainly descried the whole army of the enemy drawn 
up in order of battle about five miles off on the plains 
before the village of Argaum. This was enough. 
Though the troops had marched at six in the morning 
and it was then three o'clock in the afternoon, he 
resolved immediately to attack. The army accordingly 
marched off in three columns in a direction nearly 
parallel to the enemy's position, the irregular cavalry 
covering the left flank and rear. The country was 
covered with high grain, and for three miles those in 
the ranks could see nothing. Near the village of 
Sirsoni, however, the ground opened out slightly, and 1 
on the other side of it the cultivated land gave place to 
an open plain, perfectly flat though cut with water- 
courses, where the enemy's host came into full view 
about a thousand yards away. 

The road followed by Wellesley's division of infantry < 
entered this plain by the village of Sirsoni ; and it was t 
the General's direction that the column should leave 1 
this village on its right and, having cleared it, should 
wheel to the left and form line. The Mahrattas, 
knowing that Sirsoni marked the only access to the J 
open ground, had trained their guns upon it, and, as 
Wellesley's leading battalion emerged from it, they 
opened a fire at long range from more than fifty cannon. I 
The native troops of the advanced guard, who had J 
with them a few field-pieces drawn by bullocks, were $ 
thrown into disorder ; the bullock-drivers lost their 1 
heads ; and the cattle, turning round, carried confusion : 
into the ranks behind them. Next to the advanced ii 
guard were two native battalions which had behaved 
heroically at Assaye ; but, dismayed by the backward 
rush and galled by the cannonade, they were now seized ! 


I with panic, broke, and ran. Happily Wellesley was 1803. 
close by, or the day would have been lost. At the Nov. 
first opening of the cannonade he rode towards the 
enemy's line with some uneasiness, but presently 
observed to his secretary, " We shall have time to take 
those guns before night." Then, finding that the 
fugitive battalions would not rally to him when he 
stepped out in front, he rode quietly up to them and 
bade their officers guide them to the rear of the village, 
and reform them under cover of it. When this was 
done, he led them as quietly once more to the front 
and halted them in their appointed place, while the 
rear battalions, which had been checked and delayed by 
this mishap, came up and deployed in succession. Guns 
were brought into action on each side of the village to 
cover the deployment, so far as was possible, against an 
overwhelming superiority of artillery ; and each battalion, 
after taking up its position, lay down. 

The infantry was drawn up in a single line, standing 
from right to left in the following order : the advanced 
guard or picquets, two native battalions, the Seventy- 
eighth, the Seventy-fourth, four more native battalions 
of Wellesley 's army, and then the Scots Brigade 1 and 
the six native battalions of Stevenson's force. The 
regular cavalry, consisting of the Nineteenth and five 
native regiments, was drawn up in second line in rear 
of the right, and the irregular horse occupied the same 
position on the left. The entire force probably 
numbered from ten to eleven thousand men. 

The Mahrattas were formed in more primitive 
fashion. The centre and left were composed of 
Ragogee's infantry, artillery, and cavalry ; the right con- 
sisted of Scindia's cavalry with a number of Pindarries 
or predatory horse. The regular infantry, about ten 
thousand strong, was drawn up, together with its guns, 
in one line, with a small body of foot in rear. Scindia's 
cavalry was massed in two huge bands, one slightly in 
advance, and the other in rear of the right of the first 

1 This, while it endured, was numbered 94th of the Line. 

4 o 


1803. line; and the Rajah of Berar's cavalry likewise took 
Nov. 29. post somewhat in rear of the left flank. In all the host 
numbered, probably, from thirty to forty thousand men 
of one description or another, and covered a front of I 
considerable extent. 

After several minutes' continuance of the fire of the 1 
Mahratta artillery, the deployment of Stevenson's 1 
battalions completed Wellesley's line, and at half-past I 
four he gave the order to advance. The whole then 1 
strode forward as if on parade, while Wellesley in 1 
person led the cavalry on to within six hundred yards \ 
of the enemy, and left it with orders to play upon them 1 
with their galloping guns and to charge as soon as the 1 
fire produced any effect. In the advance of the infantry 1 
the centre for some reason gradually outpaced the rest 
until, at the moment of attack, the Seventy-fourth, 1 
Seventy-eighth, and the native battalions on their left 1 
were some distance ahead of the remainder of the line. | 
As the two European battalions arrived within sixty j 
yards of the Mahratta array the enemy's gunners 1 
fired a final discharge of grape into them, and a large ] 
body of Arabs, with much shouting, boldly charged them j 
with sword and buckler. A short but sharp struggle ( 
followed, in which the Arabs were beaten back with t 
the loss of some six hundred killed and wounded ; and 
the rest of the Mahrattas gave way almost immediately. ] 
Two feeble attacks of the cavalry upon the extremities f 
of Wellesley's line were easily repulsed, and then the i 
whole mass of the enemy turned and ran, leaving t 
thirty-eight guns behind them. Wellesley instantly 
launched his cavalry after the fugitives ; and Colonel 
St. Leger, who had succeeded Maxwell as Brigadier, 
pressed the pursuit relentlessly by moonlight, cutting 
down some three thousand of the enemy and capturing 
elephants and camels and huge quantities of baggage. 
It was midnight before the British troops finally lay 
down to rest, having been under arms for eighteen 

Their casualties in the action were inconsiderable, 


^jnot exceeding one hundred and sixty-two Europeans 1803. 
^ l and two hundred natives killed, wounded, and missing. 1 Nov. 29. 
31 1 But the proportion of Europeans that fell was unduly 
°f [large, partly, no doubt, because the enemy took care to 
[concentrate their artillery-fire upon them. Thus the 
le I small remnant of the Seventy-fourth lost fifty-two men, 
l8 |the Seventy- eighth lost forty-seven, and the Scots 
st J brigade forty-one. However, even so, the cost of a 
great success was trifling, especially after the mishap to 
111 1 the leading native battalions at the opening of the 
«| action. "I am convinced," wrote Wellesley, referring 
m |to these last, " that if I had not been near them to rally 
^ I them and restore the battle, we should have lost the 
•ylday." 2 

st On the day following the action Stevenson's division Nov. 30. 
\ marched in pursuit of the enemy, though Stevenson 
ft himself was so ill that he was hardly fit to do duty ; 
e. and, Wellesley following him a day later, the two 
y divisions met once more at Ellichpoor, about forty 
s miles east and north of Argaum, on the 5 th of December. Dec. 5. 
;e Halting there for a day to establish a hospital for the 
n wounded, Wellesley pushed on with his whole force to 
le Gawilghur, where the defeated infantry of Argaum had 
h taken refuge. The fort itself was situated on a lofty 
d mountain in a range of hills between the sources of the 
Poorna and the Taptee ; and by the natural con- 
s figuration of the ground the stronghold was divided 
e into two distinct parts, a main fort or citadel fronting 
I to the south, and an outer or lesser 3 fort which covered 
y the approach to the inner on the north. Between the 

Killed. Wounded. Missing. 

1 Europeans 15 145 2 
7 Natives 31 163 5 

1 One European officer was killed, and ten wounded. 

2 Well. Desp. ii. 565. Welsh's Military Reminiscences and 
jf Twelve Tears' Military Adventure are the best authorities to read 
] with the despatches, 

3 Perhaps this should be more correctly described as a 
fortified pettan, being in this case smaller instead of, as usual, larger 

> than the fort proper. 

42 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii c 

i8o 3- two forts was a deep gorge, on the inner side of which 
was an intermediate wall, shielding the access to the e 
walls of the citadel from the north. One and all of t< 
these defences were well built of stone, with ramparts o 
and towers but without a ditch. The roads which led t< 
to the fort were three. The first reached the citadel tl 
from the south, and was not only very long and steep, d 
but so narrow as to be impracticable for cattle. The 
second started from the outer fort on the north-west % 
side, circled round the western face of the main fort o 
within range of its guns for a long distance, and finally * 
formed the main communication with the country to * 
southward. But it was too narrow to be used as a H 
regular approach, besides which the rock on each side * 
of the gate had been scarped. There remained a third b 
road on the north side, leading to the outer fort b 
directly from the village of Labada ; and here the o: 
ground was level with the works. But on the other i 
hand the road to Labada from Ellichpoor wound for o 
thirty miles through mountains and jungle, offering d 
terrible obstacles to the transport of guns and stores, A 
together with some uncertainty as to the supply of water f 
on the way. In fact, as Wellesley said, the great diffi- ti 
culty in attacking Gawilghur was to approach it at all. os 
However, he decided to make his attempt from the K 
north by Labada ; and, since Stevenson had equipped i 
his force for a siege, the principal attack was entrusted 
to him, while Wellesley himself undertook to cover 
the operation with his own infantry and the cavalry of 
both armies, and to make such diversions as he could 
on the south and west of the fort. Accordingly on 

Dec 6. the 6th of December detachments were sent out to 
drive away the hostile troops which were encamped to 
south of the walls, and to seize the fortified village of 
Damergaum, which covered the access to Labada at the i 

Dec. 7. entrance to the mountains. On the 7th both armies 
marched from Ellichpoor, Stevenson's upon Damergaum, 
and Wellesley's on Deogaum, towards the south front 
of Gawilghur. 



For four long days Stevenson's men struggled with 1803. 
extraordinary difficulties in dragging the heavy guns 
to their appointed place. First they had to make roads 
[over the ruggedest of mountains and ravines, and then 
to haul their cannon and stores with frightful fatigue to 
I the desired spot. The work, however, was cheerfully 
[done ; and on the night of the 12th Stevenson erected Dec. 
two batteries, the one of five, the other of four guns, 
against the northern front of the outer fort. Wellesley 
1 on his side also threw up a battery of four guns, though 
with little hope of success, over against the gate of the 
south front of the citadel. All three of these opened 
fire on the 13th, Stevenson's playing with great effect, Dec. 
while the shot from Wellesley's battery simply re- 
bounded from the solid wall and rolled down the hill 
back to the very muzzles of the guns. By the night 
of the 14th the breaches in the wall of the outer fort Dec. 
upon Stevenson's side were practicable, and at ten 
o'clock of the following morning the assault was Dec. 
delivered by the flank companies of Stevenson's 
division, supported by the Scots Brigade. Simultane- 
ously Wellesley launched two columns, consisting of 
the Seventy-fourth and Seventy-eighth regiments and 
one battalion of Sepoys, as a diversion, against the 
the southern and north-western gates. Stevenson's men 
soon forced their way into the outer fort, and the 
enemy, striving to escape from their bayonets by the 
north-western gate, were met by one of Wellesley's 
columns, which forced them back, and, entering the 
gate with them, soon mastered the outer fort. 

Then to their astonishment the British for the first 
time discovered that the citadel stood on a separate 
hill on the other side of a deep gorge, beyond which 
appeared the intermediate wall and its gate. However, 
Colonel Kenny, almost by himself, found a track which 
crossed the gorge towards the gate, and the Ninety- 
fourth, presently finding it also, crowded after him to 
the intermediate wall. This rose out of a steep pitch 
of ground, and the men could only climb it slowly and 

44 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1803. with difficulty, one by one, under a heavy fire from 
Dec. 15. the walls of the citadel. Meanwhile the British supports & 
came hurrying up, and, halting on the edge of the outer 
fort, poured in an answering fire of musketry while the £ 
Ninety-fourth were clambering over the wall. Beyond ir 
this obstacle was a narrow rocky road leading to yet ® 
another wall and gate — those of the main fort — which or 
seemed to be inaccessible. However, after some H 
trouble a place was found where this last wall could be & 
escaladed ; and the light company of the Scots Brigade, 4 £ 
fixing their ladders, forced their way into the strong- K 
hold and opened the gate to admit the storming party. & 
These rushed in, and in a very short time the British * 
were in possession of Gawilghur. The total loss during w 
the siege was fourteen killed and one hundred and B: 
twelve wounded, the European share of the casualties *4 
being sixty-seven ; so that the resistance was evidently £ 
ill-organised. The garrison was some four thousand ?- 
strong, being composed chiefly of regular infantry which P" 
had fled from Argaum ; and, the British troops being fc 
savage, the slaughter among the enemy was fearful, f 
It should seem that the greater number of them was & 
killed with the bayonet or driven over the walls and - 
dashed to pieces. On a smaller scate, the assault of 
Gawilghur appears to have been as bloody as that of " 
Seringapatam. 1 

Meanwhile the expedition against Cuttack had met ■ 
with complete success. The total force allotted for k 
the operations numbered close upon five thousand men, k 
of which three thousand 2 were assembled at Ganjam t 


1 Wellington Desp. ii. 583, 599 ; Wilson's Madras Army, iii. L 
1 1 8 - 1 22 ; Welsh, Military Reminiscences, i. 195-197; Twelve [ 
Tears' Military Adventure, pp. 218-219. 

2 Europeans. 2 companies, 22nd Foot .... 200 t 

102nd Foot .... 300 |t 

Artillery, etc 73 

Natives. 20th Bengal N.I., i/9th M.N.I., i/i9th 

M.N.I., Cavalry and Artillery . . 2468 

Total . . 3041 



■or. Binder the command, first, of Lieutenant - colonel 1803. 
)rt> jfcampbell of the Seventy-fourth, and, upon his serious 
ite- Illness, of Colonel Harcourt of the Twelfth Foot, 
tklrhe rest of the troops were stationed in detachments 
)ne|it Jelasore, Balasore, and Midnapore. Harcourt 
ve: Inarched from Ganjam on the 8th of September, and Sept. 8. 
idjpn the 18th occupied Juggernaut without opposition. 
melHeavy rain then detained him until the 24th, when he Sept. 24. 
beinoved upon Cuttack, and, after some skirmishing on 
cJ:he march, took possession of it, unresisted, on the 
ig- 10th of October. The fort of Barabutty, about a mile Oct. 10. 
distant from Cuttack, made some show of resistance, 
being surrounded by a wide ditch containing thirty feet 
of water, which could be crossed only by a single bridge. 
But after a short cannonade a storming party, on the 
14th, boldly crossed the bridge and, with some difficulty Oct. 14. 
and delay, succeeded in blowing open the wicket of the 
gate. Through this the men passed singly, and were 
presently masters of the place, with a loss of little more 
than fifty killed and wounded. After this miserably 
feeble struggle the greater part of the province sub- 
mitted, and the operations practically came to an end, 
most disastrously for the Rajah of Berar. 

It is not surprising, therefore, that the final stroke 
of Gawilghur, over and above all previous losses and 
disgraces, should have crushed the spirit of the un- 
fortunate Ragogee. On the very day after Wellesley's Dec. 16. 
successful assault messengers came to sue for peace ; 
and on the 17th a treaty was signed, whereby the Dec. 17. 
province of Cuttack was ceded to the East India 
Company, and sundry other territories to its friends 
and allies. Thus one member of the Mahratta Con- 
federacy was crushed, and it was not long before another 
30 was to share his fate ; but first it must be told how 
00 Scindia fared at the hands of General Lake in Hindostan. 




On turning from the south to the north of India, from 
the correspondence of Arthur Wellesley to that of his 
brother the Viceroy, one is struck by the advantage 
which Arthur Wellesley enjoyed through his greater 
remoteness from Government House. The order to 
prepare for war was issued to him at the same time as 
to General Lake ; but Lake was required to furnish 
an elaborate plan of campaign, against each paragraph 
of which the Viceroy penned pompous comments of 
approval with as much solemnity as if he had been 
Frederick the Great. This was an entirely harmless 
amusement, for Lord Wellesley, despite an enormous 
share of vanity, was on most affectionate terms with 
Lake, and far too able a man to attempt to set him 
right upon military matters. The essence of Lake's 
plan was summed up in a single sentence, the defeat of 
Perron's army in the field. That army once destroyed, 
the success of any subsequent operations would be 
assured as a matter of course. But Perron's influence 
as vicegerent of the puppet-emperor, Shah Alum, was 
wide, and his power as leader of a large body of trained 
infantry was formidable ; and it was therefore of the 
first importance to isolate him completely before giving 
him battle. Only thus was it possible to hold the allies 
of the Mahrattas in check until a successful action 
against Perron should induce them to change sides ; and 
only thus could Scindia be prevented from returning 
suddenly from the south with his cavalry, and perhaps 

4 6 


converting a pitched battle into a British defeat, as he 1803. 
might have done at Assaye. 

The main army for the field was therefore fixed at 
the strength of one British and eleven native battalions, 
three British and three native regiments of cavalry, 
with forty-nine guns. Four native battalions and one 
regiment of native cavalry were stationed at Allahabad 
for the invasion of Bundelcund, in order to divert 
cavalry from joining Perron from that quarter. Three 
battalions and a few horse were ordered to Rohilcund 
to cover Rampore and overawe the Sikhs and other 
troublesome neighbours. A detachment of the same 
strength was designed to cover Benares and bar the 
passes to southward of it. 1 Lake had fixed his head- 
quarters at Cawnpore in July ; but marching from 
that place with the garrison on the 7th of August, Aug. 7. 
moved up the Ganges to Kanoge, near which place his 
force gradually assembled. The camp was luxurious. 
The officers were allowed to keep their wives and 
families with them, and, the nights being cold, many of 
them fitted up their tents with glass doors and brick 
chimneys. There was plenty of game in the neighbour- 
hood ; and there was at least one officer who was 
adventurous enough to spear a tiger, and would 
probably have paid for it with his life, had not Lake 
himself shot the beast with a pistol in the nick of time. 
Lastly, there was plenty of good wine, and there was a 
ballroom ; from all of which it may be concluded that 
life was merry in that camp on the Ganges. 

The last of the troops having come up, the army 
was distributed into three brigades of cavalry and four 
of infantry, counting in all nine regiments of horse and 
fourteen battalions of foot. 2 The whole, after absorbing 

1 Welle sky Desp. iii. 189-193. 

2 Cavalry. 1st Brigade. Lt.-Col. Vandeleur ; H.M. 8th L.D., 

1st and 3rd Bengal N.C. 

2nd „ Col. St. Leger ; H.M. 27th L.D., 

2nd and 6th Bengal N.C. 
3rd „ Col. Macan ; H.M. 29th L.D., 4th 
Bengal N.C. 

48 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xnr 

1803. many of the detachments so carefully distributed under 
the original scheme, must have numbered about fifteen 
thousand men, accompanied as usual by about ten times 
that number of followers and about the same proportion 
of bullocks. The army moved in a huge square, of 
which the front face was formed by the picquets coming 
on duty, the rear face by the picquets coming off duty, 
one side by the cavalry and the other by the infantry. 
The artillery kept the high road, next to the infantry, 
and the rear of the interior of the square was filled 
Aug. 26. with baggage and cattle. On the 26th of August 
Aug. 29. the host was at Secundra, and on the 29th it entered 
Mahratta territory and marched straight upon the 
fortress of Aligarh, where Perron had concentrated his 
force to oppose it. The baggage was packed and left 
in charge of a detachment about four miles in rear, and 
at about seven o'clock the enemy was sighted in the 
act of striking camp. 

Presently the Mahratta horse, about twenty thousand 
strong, drew itself up on the plain, taking post behind 
a huge morass, with their right protected by the guns 
of Aligarh, and their left resting on a village. There- 
upon Lake, taking personal command of his mounted 
troops, led them away to the right in column of regiments 
and, turning the swamp, wheeled them to the left in two 

Infantry, 1st Brigade. Lt.-Col. Monson ; H.M. 76th, 1 and 

2/4th Bengal N.I., 4 cos. 17th 

2nd „ Col. Clarke; 2/8th, 2/9th, i/i2th, 
6 cos. 1 6th Bengal N.I. 

3rd „ Col. Macdonald ; 2/i2th, 1 and 

2/1 5th Bengal N.I. 

4th „ Lt.-Col. Powell; 1 and 2/2nd, 
i/i4th Bengal N.I. 
Artillery. 2 galloper-guns to each regiment of cavalry . 18 

2 battalion-guns to each battalion of infantry . 28 
1 brigade of Horse Artillery . 
6 six-pounders, 4 twelve-pounders . .10 

3 five and a half inch howitzers ... 3 



Total of guns . -65 


i his 






lines for the attack, leaving the infantry to follow in 1803 
support. Some annoyance was caused during the Aug. 
advance by a skirmishing fire of matchlock-men, and 
by a fusillade from the village, until the houses were 
presently cleared by a native battalion ; and the enemy's 
horse retiring steadily, not without punishment from the 
guns of the British cavalry, finally abandoned the field 
without an attempt to come to close quarters. Perron 
with his bodyguard then withdrew to Agra, leaving a 
Colonel Pedron in the fort, with orders to defend it to 
the last extremity ; and Lake, disappointed at his failure 
to force a general action, was fain to occupy Coel and 
to encamp. His men had been marching from five 
in the morning until two in the afternoon on a day 
of intense heat. 

Meanwhile he summoned Pedron to surrender, with 
the result that six of Scindia's European officers at once 
quitted the Mahratta service and came over to the 
British camp. Pedron answered with a somewhat 
hesitating defiance in order to gain time to improve 
his defences ; and Lake, hoping to obtain the fort 
by bribery, took no further step until the 3rd of Sept. 
September. Finding then that his hopes were baseless, 
he resolved to assault at once rather than lose a precious 
month in a tedious siege. The decision was a bold one, 
for the fortress was deemed impregnable ; and indeed 
in the rainy season the swampy ground about it was so 
deeply inundated as to render it inaccessible. Aligarh 
consisted of an inner and an outer fort, with circular 
towers at short intervals, the configuration of the outer 
being exactly repeated on the inner lines ; while an 
immense wet ditch, " in which a seventy-four might 
sail," 1 surrounded the whole, and detached works of 
great strength and remarkable intricacy defended the 
gate. The fortress mounted in all seventy-three guns 
of various calibres, with plenty more in the arsenal to 
make good casualties. Since the only possible means 
of passing the ditch was by the gateway, Lake decided 
1 Lake to Wellesley, Welles ley Desp. iii. 293. 


HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii ( 

I 8o3. that the assault should be delivered at that point. Two j 
Se P t - 3- batteries were thrown up on the night of the 3rd, so as j 
to bring a cross-fire to bear on the outworks of the [ 
gate ; and a storming party was selected of four s 
companies of the Seventy-sixth and as many of a native j 
battalion, with a second Sepoy battalion in support. 1 \ 
Colonel Monson was appointed to lead the attack, his c 
guide being Mr. Lucas, a British officer who had lately r 
deserted Scindia's service. 
Sept. 4. At three in the morning the forlorn hope moved t 
off towards the gateway, and halted within four hundred c 
yards of it until dawn. A small party of the enemy I 
being visible sitting round a fire, a few men of the , 
Seventy-sixth were sent to surprise them, in the hope ( 
that they might enter the gate on the backs of the 
fugitives and hold it until supported. The British s 
soldiers, however, defeated their own object by de- T 
spatching every man of the enemy ; but, though the | 
alarm was raised, it was fortunately not taken up f 
seriously by the garrison. The men of the Seventy- 2 
sixth then retired unperceived ; and the sentries on the 
ramparts, after firing a few shots, relapsed into calmness t 
and security. At dawn the morning gun sounded from L 
Lake's camp ; and upon this signal tie storming party, [ 
covered by a heavy fire from the two batteries, rushed e 
at the gate. A hundred yards in advance of it was c 
a newly erected traverse mounting three guns, but [ 
the British were in possession of this work before a shot c 
had been fired ; and Monson, pressing on with two ^ 
companies of the Seventy -sixth, hoped to enter the \ 
fort with the flying garrison. He was disappointed, j, 
The traverse had been abandoned ; the gate was shut ; j 
and from three different sides the guns of the batteries j, 
and outworks plied the little party with a most de- \ 
structive fire. 

The grenadiers of the Seventy-sixth planted two E 
ladders by the walls and attempted an escalade, but L 
found the attempt hopeless in the face of a forest of j 
, 1 Four companies 17th N.I., zj^th. N.I. 


5 1 

pikes. A six-pounder was hurried up to force the 1803. 
gate, without success. A twelve -pounder was then Se P t - 
brought forward, but owing to peculiarities in the 
structure of the gateway it was not easily placed in 
position, and four or five rounds were fired before any 
impression was produced. Twenty minutes were thus 
consumed, during which time the storming party 
remained helpless under a deadly converging fire of 
grape and musketry, while the enemy, gallantly leaving 
the ramparts, swarmed down the scaling ladders to 
close with their assailants. Monson was hurt by a 
thrust from a pike, several more officers were wounded 
with him ; and the adjutant and every officer of the 
Grenadiers of the Seventy-sixth were killed outright. 

Nevertheless the first gate gave way at last, and the 
stormers pursued their way along a circular road, from 
within which a circular tower filled with matchlock-men 
poured a deadly fire of musketry upon them, while 
from without a neighbouring bastion plied them with 
a tempest of grape. At the further end of the circular 
road was a second gate, which was easily forced ; and 
the British now hurried along the causeway which 
connected the outwork with the main fortress, caught the 
flying enemy crowded at a third gate, which lay at the 
end of the causeway, and seized it before it could be 
closed against them. Thus, always under a heavy fire 
from all quarters, they entered the passage between the 
outer and inner forts, only to be stopped by a fourth 
gate. The twelve -pounder was again brought up, 
for Captain Shipton of the Artillery, though wounded, 
had refused to quit his gun ; but the gate was battered 
to no purpose, for it was too strongly secured to be 
broken down. At length, however, Major M'Leod 
of the Seventy-sixth succeeded in passing the wicket 
and ascending the ramparts ; and then resistance gave 
way to despair. The garrison, seeing the inner fort 
entered, thought of nothing but escape, and jumped by 
hundreds into the ditch. Great numbers were drowned ; 
others swam over to the plain beyond, only to find a 



l8o 3-picquet of dragoons in wait for them, and, refusing to 
e P t - 4- surrender, were cut down. In all over two thousand 
of them perished by the bayonet or the water ; and 
after an hour's hard fighting the fort of Aligarh was 

This was a fine feat of arms ; and Lake confessed 
that he had never spent a more anxious time than 
during the long hour consumed in the attack. Nor 
were the losses trifling. The four companies of the 
Seventy-sixth lost five officers and nineteen men killed, 
four officers and sixty-two men wounded ; the Fourth 
Native Infantry lost fewer officers but rather more 
men ; and altogether the casualties amounted to fifty- 
five killed and two hundred and five wounded of all 

The fortress had not been many hours in Lake's hands 
when news came that a large body of predatory horse, 
under the command of a Frenchman, Fleury, had 
attacked the cantonment of Shekoabad, some thirty-five 
miles east of Agra. Macan's brigade of cavalry was 
Sept. 5. sent off at two o'clock on the morning of the 5th to 
rescue the five companies of native infantry quartered 
in the place, but arrived too late. The Sepoys, under 
command of Colonel Coningham, had feced five thousand 
cavalry in the open plain for two consecutive hours 
and had finally driven them off. But the attack 
had been renewed on the following day, and after a 
further resistance of some hours the British commander, 
who was himself wounded, was obliged to engage that 
his troops should serve against Scindia no more during 
the war ; upon which condition he led them away with 
all their arms and their one battalion-gun. Five British 
officers and over sixty men were killed and wounded 
in this affair. Macan, burning to take vengeance, 
pursued Fleury by forced marches as far as Ferozabad, 
about twenty-four miles east of Agra, which he reached 
on the 8 th. There, finding that the enemy had crossed 
the Jumna, he gave up the pursuit, but continued roving 
Sept. 17. until the 17th, when he marched to rejoin the main army. 


Lake, meanwhile, having strengthened the defences 1803. 
of Aligarh and left a native battalion in it for garrison, 
marched on the 7th towards Delhi, having intelligence Sept. 7 
that Louis Bourquain, one of Scindia's French officers, 
was employing the name and prestige of the Mogul 
Emperor to the utmost in order to strengthen his 
position among the native chiefs. On the evening of 
the same day the General received a letter from Perron 
reporting that he had quitted Scindia's service, and 
asking for a safe-conduct to Lucknow. An escort 
was willingly granted, and Perron, with Fleury and 
another officer, after a few months' stay at Lucknow, 
removed to Chandernagore. Lake, not ill-pleased thus 
to be rid of a formidable enemy, pursued his march, 
and on the 8th had the satisfaction to find the strong Sept. 8 
fort of Koorjah evacuated at his approach, the garrison 
having no mind to repeat the experience of Aligarh. 
On the 10th a march of eighteen miles brought him Sept. 1 
within six miles of Delhi on the eastern side ; and on 
the road intelligence arrived that Louis Bourquain had 
crossed the Jumna in the night with sixteen battalions 
of regular infantry, six thousand horse, and several 
guns, with the expressed intention of attacking him. 

The troops had come into camp at eleven in the 
forenoon, much fatigued ; but hardly had the tents 
been pitched, when the enemy appeared in such force 
as to oblige the grand guard and picquets to turn out. 
More and more bodies of the Mahratta army appeared, 
and presently Lake mounted his horse, and, taking 
three regiments of cavalry, 1 which were all that re- 
peated detachments had left to him at the moment, 
rode off to reconnoitre them in person. He found 
the entire array drawn up on rising ground, with the 
Jumna in its rear. The infantry formed the first line, 
and was posted very strongly behind entrenchments, 
each flank covered by a swamp and the whole length of 
the front bristling with guns. Behind the foot stood the 
cavalry in second line. High grass and jungle in some 
1 H.M. 27th L.D., 2nd and 3rd Bengal N.C. 



1803. measure concealed the enemy's dispositions, and, as Lake 
Sept. io. pro i onged his 

reconnaissance, the Mahratta guns opened I 
fire upon his escort. Having satisfied himself, however, 
the General lost no time in sending orders to his 
infantry to move to the front at once. Detachments 
for various services had deprived him of two complete 
brigades of cavalry and five battalions of infantry, 
leaving him with three regiments of cavalry and eight 
and a half battalions of infantry only. Allowing half a 
battalion and the picquets for a baggage-guard, he could 
reckon on about four thousand five hundred men for 
the coming action ; and with these he prepared to assail 
the nineteen thousand under Louis Bourquain. 

It was a full hour before the infantry could come 
up; and meanwhile the cavalry suffered heavily from 
the fire of the enemy's artillery. Lake's horse was 
shot under him, and he was obliged to take that 
of his son, who in his turn took that of a dead 
trooper. At length, seeing that the battalions were 
approaching, Lake gave the order for the cavalry 
to fall back, hoping thus to lure the enemy from their 
position. He was not deceived. The entire Mahratta 
line advanced with its artillery, shouting loudly as the 
cavalry retired. The regiments continued the retro- 
grade movement in line, always masking the advance 
of the infantry, until they reached their comrades; 
when upon a sudden word they wheeled right and left 
into column of troops and galloped away to both 
flanks, revealing the line of battalions perfectly formed, 
with the Seventy-sixth on the right and the Sepoys in 
succession upon its left. 1 In a few minutes the cavalrj 
was again massed in rear of the right wing ; and then 
since the enemy's Sikh horsemen were advancing tc 
threaten his right flank and rear, Lake threw out twc 
or three squadrons with two galloping guns to check 
them. At the same time the left flank battalion, witl 

1 The actual position of the various corps was as follows, fron 
right to left: 76th, 2/i2th N.I., 2/ijth N.I., 2/2nd N.I., i/Htl 
N.I., i/2nd N.I. 



(four guns, was thrown forward obliquely with its right 1803 
wing resting on a village, in order to cover the left. ^P*- 
These dispositions completed, Lake placed himself at 
the head of the Seventy-sixth, and ordered the whole 
line to advance. 

The Mahrattas promptly opened a tremendous fire 
of round, grape, and chain shot ; but the battalions 
strode on unheeding. The Seventy-sixth kept their 
muskets at the shoulder, despite the concentration of 
the Mahratta guns upon them, until they came 
within range of one hundred yards, when Lake gave 
the order to fire a volley and charge. The effect was 
as crushing as at Quebec. The British dashed forward, 
and the Mahrattas broke and fled in all directions. 
The troops were no sooner halted after the charge 
than Lake ordered the battalions to form column of 
companies ; and the cavalry, galloping through the 
intervals, fell upon the unhappy fugitives and hunted 
them to the Jumna, where the galloping guns made 
terrible havoc among the flying masses. But, while 
the cavalry was thus engaged on the front and right, 
a part of the Mahrattas had retired to the left ; where- 
fore Lake wheeled the line of infantry also to the left, 
and, pursuing them among the broken ground and 
ravines adjoining the Jumna, completely routed them 
and captured all their guns and stores. The action 
came to an end at seven in the evening, by which time 
the troops had been on foot for sixteen hours, for the 
most part under a burning sun. The army then 
encamped on the bank of the river over against the 
city of Delhi. 

It is instructive to compare this action with that of 
Assay e, which was fought only a fortnight later. In 
both cases the British commanders found their enemy 
very strongly posted with very powerful and efficient 
artillery, and in both cases they manoeuvred to make 
him change position and then attacked. Both, also, 
resolved to endure the punishment of the enemy's 
cannon for a time, feeling sure that he could not stand 


56 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii c 

1803. the ordeal of meeting their infantry. But here the 

Sept. 10. resemblance ends. In Lake's action everything went 2. 

right, and the cavalry was fresh for pursuit ; in c 

Wellesley's everything went wrong, and the result was K 

a narrow escape from disaster. It may therefore be h 

concluded that but for the unfortunate error which led } i 

Wellesley's right astray, the battle of Assaye would G 

have been such another as Delhi. But with all his V, 

good fortune, Lake's losses were in one respect serious, a 

The total number of killed, wounded, and missing was 2: 

four hundred and seventy-eight ; and of these one p : 

hundred and thirty-seven, including one officer, c 

belonged to the Seventy-sixth. The native regiment S; 

which stood next to it lost ninety-one of all ranks Y 

killed and wounded ; and the casualties among the I 

horses of the cavalry brigade amounted to one hundred I 

and seventy. In truth it was no child's play to face the I 

fire of the Mahratta artillery, though, when once it had h 

been silenced by the charge of the infantry, the action f 

in every case came to an abrupt end. The Mahrattas b 

on this occasion were estimated to have lost three b 

thousand men, and they left sixty-eight pieces of a; 

cannon, all admirably made after a French design, as I 
the trophies of the victors. 

Halting for three days, Lake crossed to the western ti 

Sept. 14. bank of the Jumna on the 14th, and on the same day 0 

received the surrender of Bourquain and of four more I 

French officers, who were presently sent down to | 

Calcutta. This gave a mortal stroke to the French I 
Sept. 1 6. power built up by Perron ; and on the 1 6th Lake 
was welcomed by the emperor, Shah Alum, to the 
capital of the Mogul empire. It was the last of many 
vicissitudes which the unhappy potentate was to experi- 
ence. Old, blind, and broken down by harsh treatment, 
he found himself, though still a puppet, yet again by 
title an emperor, and entertained as such with honour. 
Three years later he died at the age of eighty-six, 
having lived to see the occupants of a few small 
factories become the masters of India. 



the After a week's halt in Delhi, Lake marched on the 1803. 
toil 24th upon Agra, his heavy guns and stores being Sept. 24. 
conveyed in boats down the Jumna, while the army 
followed the banks. On the 25 th messengers arrived 
from the Rajah of Bhurtpore, a powerful chief of the 
Jats, to beg the friendship and protection of the British 
Government, which proposal, being readily entertained 
by Lake, was on the 9th of October formulated into 
a treaty of offensive and defensive alliance. On the 
2nd of October the army reached Muttra, Perron's Oct. 2. 
principal arsenal, where Lake was rejoined by the 
cavalry and other troops that had been detached to 
Shekoabad and other quarters, 1 and was further greeted 
by four more of Scindia's French officers who had 
come in to surrender. Two days later he encamped Oct. 4. 1 
on the south side of Agra, when he at once summoned 
the garrison to surrender ; but the troops in the city 
had risen against their European officers ; all was in 
confusion ; and no answer was returned. Seven 
battalions of regular infantry with several guns were, 
however, encamped upon the glacis, occupying the town 
and the ravines which surrounded the south and south- 
west faces of the fort ; and Lake realised that until 
these were dislodged it would be impossible to conduct 
the operations of a siege. Shifting his camp, therefore, 
on the 7th and 8th so as to encircle the place as far Oct. 7, 8. 
as possible, he on the 10th made two separate attacks, Oct. 10. 
each with three battalions of Sepoys, upon the town 
and the ravines, and drove the enemy off with a loss 
of six hundred men and twenty-six guns. The action, 
however, was severe, since the troops were exposed 
to the guns of the fort ; and the object was not attained 
without the loss of two hundred and twenty-eight 
killed and wounded, including nine British officers. 
Two days later, however, the remainder of the seven Oct. 12. 
battalions, two thousand five hundred strong, sur- 
rendered ; and on the morrow, before Lake could Oct. 13. 

1 8th and 29th L.D., two regiments of native cavalry, and 
three and a half Sepoy battalions. 

58 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

8o 3- make any great progress with his batteries, the two 
English officers, Hessing and Sutherland, who com- 
manded within the city, wrote to ask for terms, stating 
that they had persuaded the troops to offer no further 
resistance. Lake replied that he would grant pro- 
tection to themselves and their private property, and 
continued to work at his batteries, one of which opened 

• ^fire with such effect on the 17 th that the conditions 
were promptly accepted. On the 18th the British 
were in possession of Agra. 1 

The capture of this great fortress, the key of 
Hindostan, produced a profound impression upon the 
native mind ; and Lake, when he saw from within how 
formidable was its strength and calculated the loss that 
must have ensued upon a storm, felt devoutly thankful 
for his good fortune. 2 All was now going well. 
Enormous quantities of stores were taken in Agra, 
which pleased the General ; a very large sum in the 
treasury was adjudged to be prize-money, which pleased 
the officers and men ; and finally two thousand five 
hundred of Scindia's infantry had taken service with 
the British, while the Rajah of Bhurtpore had brought 
to Lake a contingent of five thousand horse. Scindia's 
regular infantry, however, was not" yet entirely ex- 
tinguished. That chieftain before the battle of Assaye 
had detached fifteen battalions from the Deccan to 
Hindostan, and these, added to two of Bourquain's 
which had escaped at Delhi, made up a force of about 
nine thousand men. 3 They were excellently equipped 
with artillery ; they were further accompanied by four 
or five thousand horse, not all of inferior quality ; they 
had a good leader in a Mahratta named Abaji ; and 

1 Thorn, Wellesley Desp. iii. 393-396, 407. 

2 Welles ley Desp. iii. 415. 

3 Grant Duff, Hist, of the Mahrattas, iii. 179, gives the number 
of detached battalions as seven, and adds to them three more of 
Bourquain's besides the fugitives. Lake, however {Wellesley Desp, 
iii. 450) speaks of seventeen battalions. All authorities agree thai 
the number of men, whatever the number of battalions, was nine 


Lake was not disposed to allow them to wander at 180 3- 
large about Hindostan. On the 27th of October, Oct. 27 
therefore, he marched westward, and after a day's halt 
at Karowly, due to a very heavy fall of rain, pushed 
forward on the 29th nearly to Futtehpoor, where the Oct. 29 
sound of the enemy's guns, bombarding a neighbouring 
town, roused him to renewed exertion. The heavy 
guns and baggage were left at Futtehpoor with an 
escort of two battalions ; and two forced marches 
north-westward brought him on the 31st to the ground Oct. 31 
where the enemy had encamped on the same 

Intent upon overtaking them, Lake started on the 
same night at eleven o'clock with the whole of his 
cavalry, 1 hoping to keep them engaged with the 
mounted troops until the infantry should come up. 
In six hours he traversed twenty- five miles, and at 
dawn of the 1st of November came up with a confused Nov. 1. 
mass of men, evidently in hasty retreat. Marking 
their disorder, Lake determined to attack at once ; but 
the enemy contrived to gain time by cutting the em- 
bankment of a large reservoir of water, which made the 
road very difficult for the passage of cavalry. Turning 
this respite to good account, the Mahratta leaders 
pushed on for a short distance, and took up a strong 
position between the villages of Laswaree and Mohaul- 
pore, the latter of which was fortified. Immediately in 
rear of Laswaree flowed a small stream, with banks so 
steep as to be barely accessible ; and from its front a 
ravine ran diagonally through the right wing of the 
Mahratta line of battle. Along the whole length of 
that line extended a broad strip of high grass, which 
concealed their array and their seventy-two guns com- 
pletely from the view of their pursuers. The dense 
clouds of dust raised by the enemy's movements contri- 
buted also to obscure alike their intentions and their 

1 1st brigade, Col. T. P. Vandeleur, 8th L.D., 1st N.C., 3rd N.C. 
2nd brigade .... 27th L.D., 6th N.C, 2nd N.C. 
3rd „ Col. Macan . . 29th L.D., 4th N.C. 

6o HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii < 

1803. dispositions, making it almost impossible for Lake to s 

ov. 1. divine what they were actually doing. 

None the less, having overtaken them only by un- 1 
common exertions, he was determined not to let them c 
escape. He therefore ordered the advanced guard and 1 
the first brigade of cavalry to move upon the point where 1 
the enemy had last been seen in motion, which, as a r ' 
matter of fact, proved to be the left of their new 0 
position. The two remaining brigades were to maintain 0 
the attack, as quickly as they could be formed after J 1 
passing the stream which separated them from the 
field of action. 

The first brigade accordingly crossed the water, and, 1 
riding from end to end of the enemy's front, charged ^ 
the left of their line by Mohaulpore, broke through it, 
drove the Mahratta gunners from their guns, and 
penetrated into the village. But they were unable to 
silence the galling fire of musketry and artillery which c 
still played upon them. Their brigadier, Vandeleur, 
an excellent officer, was mortally wounded ; and Lake, 
seeing that they could do no more, was fain to withdraw 
the squadrons, and to allow the guns which they had 
captured but had been unable to remove, to relapse into 
the enemy's possession. In other quarters the second 
and third brigades delivered their attack as gallantly 
and with as little permanent effect. Macan, who was 
directed upon the Mahratta right, crossed the ravine 
with his two regiments under a heavy cannonade, 
wheeled into line in the face of a still heavier fire, and 
galloped down upon the guns as if he had been at a 
review. Nothing could be seen through the long grass ; 
and the Mahratta gunners, holding their fire until the 
horses were within twenty yards, poured upon them 
a storm of grape and chain shot. Yet still the 
squadrons galloped on, passed through the batteries, 
although the cannon were fastened by chains from 
axle-tree to axle-tree, and rallied on the other side. But 
already the Mahratta gunners, who had crept under 
their guns when the cavalry came upon them, were 



observing them again; while the infantry, entrenched 1803, 
jbehind their waggons and carts, showered on the Nov - 
Jassembling squadrons a hail of bullets. Nothing 
Jdaunted, Macan charged back through the line with 
dkhe same irresistible gallantry and the same result ; 
e (repeated the charge a third time, and was about to 
a Irene w it for the fourth when he was recalled by Lake's 
wfcrder, and withdrawn with the rest of the cavalry out 
in of range. The troopers had suffered heavily, and, 
er though they had taken many guns, yet, for want of 
nfantry to secure them, had been unable to retain more 
than two. The whole attack indeed was unnecessary, 
and would hardly have been delivered had not Lake 
Deen under the impression that the enemy was still 
retreating. When once he had found out his mistake 
le recalled all three brigades, resolving simply to hold 
the enemy with them until his infantry should 
ome up. 

At about eleven o'clock the infantry appeared, 
namely the Seventy- sixth and four native battalions. 
They had been marching since three o'clock in the 
morning, and, having traversed twenty-five miles under 
a blazing sun, were much fatigued. Lake therefore 
gave them an hour's halt for breakfast ; and in the 
interval Abaji, awed by the arrival of the victorious 
British infantry, sent a message to the General that, 
if certain terms were granted to him, he was willing to 
surrender his guns. Lake returned an answer accept- 
ing the proposal, and granting him an hour to make up 
his mind ; not omitting, however, to make his dis- 
8 . positions for a fresh attack. Abaji meanwhile shifted 
ne his ground, throwing back his right, and took up a 
new position. His infantry was formed in two lines, 
he the first covering the front or east, and the second in 
the rear or west of Mohaulpore, while the cavalry ex- 
tended beyond it almost to the stream, with its right 
flank in the air. Lake therefore formed his battalions 
[ er En two columns along the brink of the stream ; the first, 
under Major-general Ware, being designed toadvance and 



1803. turn Abaji's right flank, and the second, under Major- 
Nov. 1. general St. John, to support Ware. Macan's brigade 
of cavalry also was to sustain the infantry, while the 
first and second brigades were extended widely across 
the plain on the British right, with the galloping guns 
and a few field -pieces pushed well forward in two 
groups, each with a squadron for escort, so as to 
menace and contain the Mahratta front. 

Meanwhile the stipulated hour expired without a 
sign of the fulfilment of Lake's conditions ; and 
accordingly his infantry advanced along the bank of 
the stream, under shelter of high grass and broken 
ground, which for some time concealed their movement. 
After a time, however, their march was detected, and 
Abaji, divining its purport, threw back his right wing, 
covering the manoeuvre by a heavy and destructive 
cannonade upon the head of the British column. The 
result of this evolution was that the Mahratta array 
now assumed somewhat the form of the letter L, but 
with an obtuse instead of a right angle at the junction 
of the two lines, and that the British column, far from 
taking it in flank, was itself exposed to a flanking fire. 
The artillery which had accompanied the British 
infantry unlimbered and played upoif the new front of 
the enemy's right wing, while the three batteries with 
the cavalry advanced and did the like upon their left 
wing ; but the British guns were overmatched both in 
numbers and weight of metal by those of the Mahrattas ; 
and matters began to look serious. The Seventy 
sixth, which headed the column, had reached its 
appointed station, as also had a battalion and a half of 
Sepoys which followed immediately after it ; and they 
had accordingly wheeled into line. But the remainder 
of the column had been delayed by unexpected impedi 
ments ; and the three leading corps were compelled tc 
await its coming inactive, under a furious and very 
well-directed fire. Lake, seeing that no troops could 
endure such a trial for long, ordered the Seventy-sixth an 
its companions to advance forthwith. They did so wi 


alacrity ; but the enemy, with great coolness allowing 1803. 
them to approach within range of canister shot, saluted Nov * 1 - 
them with a murderous salvo from every gun in their 
front, while at the same time a body of cavalry bore 
down upon their left flank. Fortunately the Seventy- 
Jsixth was on the left of the line, and in spite of terrible 
to I losses, retained such steadiness and order as to repulse 
this dangerous attack ; but the Mahratta horse soon 
rallied and showed unmistakable signs of delivering a 
second charge. Foreseeing some such trouble, Lake 
had ordered the Twenty-ninth Dragoons to be at hand 
to support the advancing infantry. These had been 
halted in a hollow behind the British guns by the 
stream, where they were partially screened from the 
enemy's view, but none the less exposed to rolling and 
ricochet shot, 1 which killed the commanding officer and 
wrought much mischief among both men and horses. 
This regiment, to its great relief, was now ordered to 
advance. The outlet from the depression in which 
they were posted was too strait to admit a broad 
front ; and it was in narrow file that they galloped 
forward and formed on the left flank of the hard- 
pressed Seventy- sixth. The gallant infantry hailed 
them with loud cheers, which were echoed by the 
dragoons ; and the Mahratta horse, which was advanc- 
ing to the charge, beat a very hasty retreat. 

There was now a pause. The Mahratta guns were 

1 "Nothing is so trying for troops as to stand exposed to a 
heavy fire from guns out of point-blank range ; for it cannot be 
expected that ordinary flesh and blood will stand and see a shot hit 
it without attempting to get out of the way. I would observe for 
the benefit of my young military readers that they must not suppose 
when they see a round shot going leisurely along the ground that it 
is then quite innocuous, particularly if it has a spinning motion ; 
for if when in that state it meets with a stone or any irregularity 
which raises it from the ground, it will fly off apparently with 
renewed force, but really with the force which it was before ex- 
pending in its rotatory motion. I knew a person whose leg was 
shattered to pieces from his having thought to stop a ball in this 
situation by putting his foot upon it." — Twelve Tears' Military 
Adventure, p. 201. 

64 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1803. silent, the gunners seeming to bide their time to 
ov - 1 • annihilate their assailants. On the British side there 
had occurred an incident which braced the troops for a 
supreme effort. Lake, at the head of the Seventy- 
sixth, had his charger shot under him. His son, who 
was on his staff, dismounted and offered his own horse, 
which the General at first refused, but after some 
entreaty consented to mount. The younger Lake 
then took a trooper's horse, and had just swung him- 
self into the saddle when he was struck by a cannon 
shot, and fell very severely wounded before his father's 
eyes. For a fleeting moment Lake forgot everything 
in the agony of seeing his son, as he thought, killed ; 
then, instantly mounting the horse, he was again 
directing the battle. The trumpet of the Twenty- 
ninth dragoons sounded the charge, and was answered 
forthwith by the roar of every Mahratta gun ; but 
the troopers, galloping through a tempest of grape-shot 
and a general volley of musketry, rode straight into 11 
the line of guns, scattering the gunners ; then crashed 1 
into the first line of infantry and broke it up ; then ' 
pressed on against the second line of infantry and C 
swept away its right ; and finally, wheeling to the Jl 
left, fell again upon the Mahratta ftorse and routed tl 
them completely. Lake meanwhile followed hard at t 
their heels with the infantry, which by this time had 
been increased by a battalion and a half of Sepoys, 
secured the guns, and drove the enemy's right wing 
in confusion before him. The remainder of his 
infantry now came up ; when, advancing with the 
whole of them, he attacked Abaji's second line, which 
resisted most bravely, contesting every inch of ground. 
But at length it was forced back from the village 
into the plain, where the indefatigable Twenty-ninth, 
returning from the pursuit of the cavalry, swept down 
upon it and cut it to pieces. 

Even now, however, the first line of the enemy's 
left wing before Mohaulpore, scorning to break andli: 
fly, strove still to retreat in good order. But by thisle 


toitime Lake could turn nearly the whole of his force 1803. 
erejupon them. The Twenty-seventh dragoons and Sixth Nov. 1, 
n Native Cavalry cut off their retreat, and at length 
tv- breaking into the column, after a long, stubborn, and 
fiolmost gallant resistance, cut them down by hundreds. 
:se,|A bare two thousand were left at last, and these 
melbecame prisoners. The rest of the Mahratta host was 
ilce|slain or utterly swept away. 

So ended the long agony of this most fateful and 
bloody fray, as fierce a fight as ever was fought by 
mortal men. It marked the fall of the proud 
Mahratta empire ; and, as on the death-day of Hyder 
Ali's dynasty, nothing was wanting to mark the horror 
of the crash. The seventeen battalions which De 
Boigne had trained, and which until this dawn had 
been known as the Deccan Invincibles, were reduced 
to two thousand disarmed and captured, though always 
valiant men. The remainder were lying on the plain 
in thousands, dying or dead, and with them most of 
their comrades of the horse. The fortified village of 
Mohaulpore was sinking into a smoking heap of ashes. 
Of the Mahratta guns, some stood in lines as during the 
action, with the gunners bayonetted and dead beneath 
them ; others, which the drivers had striven to carry 
away, lay scattered and overturned. The tumbrils and 
ammunition-waggons, in which they had kindled slow 
matches, exploded from time to time with a sullen 
roar, and veiled the sky with an ever-thickening 
canopy of sulphurous smoke. Beneath the canopy 
the British troops moved wearily or lay still, utterly 
exhausted by hard marching and hard fighting. Above 
it there advanced with startling rapidity a dense bank of 
clouds, which burst after sundown in a furious thunder- 
storm, lighting up the ghastly field with frightful vivid- 
ness at every flash, and printing deep upon every mind 
an awful memory of the night after Laswaree. 

The loss of the British was thirteen officers and 
one hundred and fifty-nine men killed ; twenty-nine 
officers and six hundred and twenty -three men 
vol. v F 



1803. wounded ; making a total of eight hundred and 
Nov. 1 . twenty-four casualties. Among the killed the British 
numbered eighty-two, and among the wounded two 
hundred and forty-eight. The chief sufferers, as usual, 
were the Seventy-sixth, with a loss among all ranks of 
forty-three killed and one hundred and forty-nine 
wounded. This raised their casualties in the three 
actions of the 4th and nth of September and the 
1st of November to eighteen officers and four hundred 
and twenty-eight men. Next to the Seventy-sixth 
came two Sepoy battalions, the one with one hundred 
casualties, the other with eighty-seven ; but relatively 
the three white cavalry regiments suffered more than 
they. The Eighth Light Dragoons lost fifty-four of 
all ranks, and one hundred and sixteen horses ; the 
Twenty-seventh, forty-eight of all ranks and eighty- 
six horses ; the Twenty-ninth, sixty-two of all ranks, 
and one hundred and twelve horses. In all, the cavalry 
lost no fewer than four hundred and fifty-three horses 
killed, wounded, and missing. 

But perhaps the General's staff was the most 
heavily punished of all. The Quartermaster's deputy 
and one aide-de-camp were killed ; and the Adjutant- 
general, Secretary, Political Agent and commander of 
the escort were wounded. Lake himself had his coat 
burned by a matchlock fired at close range, though 
the bullet by a happy chance missed him ; and two 
horses were killed under him, one of them a favourite 
charger named " Old Port," which was regretted even 
by the Viceroy. 1 Always in the thickest of the fire, 
it seemed to those with him miraculous that he escaped 
injury, but in truth his presence alone probably saved 
the fight. The enemy fought, as he said, "like devils.! 
or rather like heroes . . . and if they had been com- 
manded by French officers the event would have 
been, I fear, extremely doubtful. I never was in scl 
severe a business in my life or anything like it, and 

1 " I grieve for the loss of my poor friend 1 Old Port.' ' 
Wellesley Desp. Hi. 458. Wellesley had given this horse to Lake. 


pray to God I never may be in such a situation again." 1803. 
In truth in his eagerness to overtake and destroy the Nov. 1. 
battalions trained by De Boigne, Lake ran a more 
dangerous risk than he had expected. His first onslaught 
with his cavalry only was, as it fell out, a simple waste 
of men and horses ; but being unable to see anything 
when the attack was delivered, he was reasonable in 
conjecturing that an enemy which had fled from him 
precipitately for some days, would be more likely to 
continue its flight than to turn to bay. Probably, too, 
in both phases of the action he underrated his enemy's 
power of manoeuvre, and, like Wellington, was some- 
what taken aback to see Scindia's battalions change 
position with order and regularity when menaced by 
an attack in flank. It is impossible, indeed, not 
to conjecture that Abaji may have secretly nursed a 
vague scheme of turning upon his pursuers when they 
were exhausted by a long chase. His army was better 
appointed than Lake's, as the General confessed. He 
had thrice as many men to each gun as the British ; 
he had greatly superior bullocks ; and he had camels to 
carry the knapsacks of his infantry, which enabled 
them to make long marches with little fatigue. All 
this, however, availed him nothing. His brave army 
was cut to pieces ; his guns, seventy-one in number, 
were captured, together with sixty-four tumbrils laden 
with ammunition, forty-four stand of colours, five 
thousand stand of arms, and the whole of a large train 
of baggage. He had the bad luck to meet very fine 
troops, flushed with victory and led by a General 
whom they trusted, and rightly trusted, to handle them 
to the best advantage in a battle ; and he was beaten. 
But in spite of his failure he fought a splendid action, 
and his men covered themselves with glory. As to 
the British troops, the conduct of the Seventy-sixth 
ranks with the very highest that has ever been recorded 
of any corps in the British Army. 1 

1 The authorities known to me respecting the battle of 
Laswaree are not many. There are the accounts in Thorn, p. 



l %°3- Embarrassed by the number of his wounded, and 
other cares, Lake did not quit the battlefield until the 
Nov. 8. 8th, when retracing his steps by leisurely marches he 

Nov. 13. halted close to Agra on the 13th, sending his sick and 
his captured guns into the fortress. From all sides 
the neighbouring chieftains and Rajahs swarmed in 
to pay their court, and to conclude defensive alliances 
with the victor. Among them came Runjeet Singh, 
the Rajah of Bhurtpore, an elderly little man, very 
plain in his attire, who, having concluded his visit of 
ceremony, retired to his capital, doubtless thinking 
deeply of the future. Lake was joined by a few 
reinforcements, but everything pointed to the prob- 
ability that they would not be required. The 
occupation of Bundelcund was the only one of the 
tasks set to him which he had not fulfilled ; but the 
work had been progressing ever since September, and 
though obstructed by a rebellious chief, was going 
forward rapidly under the bayonets of a small force 
of native infantry. With the exception, therefore, of 
sending a small detachment to hasten the capture of 
Gwalior, there was seemingly nothing more for Lake , 
to do ; and he and his army indulged in a well- 
earned rest. ■ 

By this time Scindia was almost at the last gasp. 
He had been utterly defeated in the Deccan, in 
Hindostan, and in Cuttack, but even so the cup of his 
affliction had not been filled. In spite of all the 
apathy and obstruction of the Government at Bombay, 
an expedition against Baroach had been duly organised 

Aug. 21. in the months of July and August ; and on the 21st of 
the latter month a force of about a thousand men, one 
half of them being of the Sixty-first and Eighty-sixth, 
and the remainder of Native Infantry, under Lieutenant- 
colonel Woodington, marched from Baroda, and sat 
down unresisted on the 24th before the fortress. On 

210 seq., in Notes of the Principal Transactions, p. 93, and Lake's' 
letters in Wellesley Desp. iii. 439-447, 449. These are wellj 
summarised by Captain May, From Cromwell to Wellington. 


the 26th Woodington opened fire from a single battery 1803. 
of two guns ; and on the 29th, the breach being practic- Aug. 29 
able, Baroach was stormed after a short resistance 
which cost the assailants sixty-nine of all ranks killed 
and wounded. Thereupon the British took possession 
of the entire district of the same name, a rich and 
populous territory which afforded a large annual 

Attacked and despoiled on all sides, Scindia and 
Ragogee Rao were fain to sue for peace. A treaty 
with the latter was concluded on the 17th of December, Dec. 1; 
three days after the fall of Gawilghur ; and a second 
treaty on the 30th brought to an end the war with Dec. 3c 
Scindia. Ragogee ceded Cuttack, and all his territories 
west of the Wurda. Scindia yielded all his country 
in the Doab between the Jumna and the Ganges, all 
that between the Ajunta Hills and the Godavery, and 
the forts and districts of Ahmednuggur and Baroach. 
Both engaged themselves never to employ any subject 
of any power that should be at war with England ; 
and the first phase of the contest with the Mahrattas 
was over. 


1803. While Lake was lying in camp near Agra at the end tc 
of December, letters came to him from Jeswunt Rao 
Holkar, the only important Mahratta chief who now 
remained unconquered or unconciliated, in terms which 
the General described as arrogant and improper, 
After the tremendous punishment administered to his 
peers by the British army it was reasonable to suppose 
that Holkar would at least have taken up a respectful, 
if not a cordial attitude, and would have made his 
friendly overtures in a less patronising tone. The 
Government at Calcutta, though willing and even 
desirous to come to a definite understanding with him, 
saw no particular necessity for including him in the 
treaties contracted with Ragogee ana 1 Scindia, much 
less for entering into a separate alliance with him. If he 
would remain quiet and leave the British and their 
allies alone, Lord Wellesley was not disposed to disturb 
him ; and the probability was that, after all that had 
happened, Holkar would give no trouble, at any rate for 
the present. He had played false towards his brethren 
of Gwalior and Berar by neglecting to come to their 
assistance until it was too late ; and it was hardly 
likely that he would have now the temerity to 
encounter the British single-handed. 

But Holkar was an ambitious man, who could think 
for himself ; and it is possible that his reflections had 
led him to the same conclusion as had recently been 
formed by the most sagacious of his enemies. Arthur 
Wellesley, when summing up the position in November, 




averred that the Mahrattas had made a mistake in 1803. 
fighting the British with regular infantry and artillery, 
that their military spirit had been impaired by the 
importation of European officers to train them accord- 
ing to European ideas, and that they would have been 
far more formidable if they had stuck to their 
traditional military policy and fought a predatory war 
with cavalry only. 1 Be this as it may, Holkar did not 
give up the game for lost ; and while still expressing a 
friendly disposition towards the British, he proceeded 
to levy contributions on Rajpootana, pretending to be 
unaware that it had passed under British protection, 
and actually to threaten the territory of Jeypore. 
This was carrying impudence rather too far. On the 
23rd of December Lake broke up his camp near Agra, Dec. 23. 
and moving some fifty miles west and south, took up his 
station with the main army at Biana, by the pass which 
commands the entrance to the dominions of the Rajah 
of Jeypore. Thence he addressed a letter to Holkar 
disclaiming any hostile intentions, but bidding him 
desist from his depredations and, in pledge of his good 
faith, to withdraw to his own estates. 

Holkar then took up his station about Ajmeer, and 
proceeded to murder three British officers who were 1804. 
in his service because, in obedience to the Viceroy's 
proclamation, they had expressed their intention of 
resigning their commissions. Nevertheless Lord 
Wellesley was averse from taking strong measures, and 
instructed Lake to assure the Mahratta chief that the 
Government harboured the most amicable feelings 
towards him, though it could not permit him to injure 
the allies of the British. The General for his part 
feared that permanent peace could not be hoped for 
until Holkar's power was annihilated, but promised to 
avoid hostilities if possible. Meanwhile he advanced 
westward to Dowsa, about thirty miles east of Jeypore, 
so as to be ready to check any hostile movement ; where- 
upon Holkar renewed so fervently his professions of 
1 Wellington Desp.Sx. 518-519. 

72 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1804. extreme solicitude to maintain friendship and to abstain 
from further aggression, that Lord Wellesley actually 
began to think of breaking up the army. Lake was 
not so sanguine. He had noticed that Holkar barely 
kept within the letter of the law, and, knowing that he 
would turn to mischief directly the British force was 
withdrawn, begged the Viceroy not to hasten disarma- 
ment. " I never was so plagued as I am with this 
devil/' he wrote ; " if he does not come in to see me, 
which I do not suppose he will, I cannot move on 
towards him, as, the moment I advance and leave an 
opening for him, he will give me the slip, get into our 
territories with his horse, and burn and destroy every- 
thing he comes near." But for all his impatience Lake 
was loyal. " Don't, my dear Lord, from this language 
imagine that I shall commence hostilities with Holkar 
or lead you into another war, unless he comes or till I j 
hear from you." 1 

Such a situation could not last long. The British 
Government could not be at the expense of keeping a 
large army in the field to watch a chief who refused to 
retire, and waited only for its withdrawal to plunder 
and ravage. Matters were brought nearer to a crisis 
by the interception of several letters"which had passed 
between Holkar and certain chiefs of the Rohillas and 
Sikhs, wherein a detailed plan was set forth for the 
overrunning of all the British territory eastward of 
Benares. But Lake, while apprising Jeswunt Rao that \ 
this correspondence was in his hands, still gave him the 

Feb. 20. chance to go in peace. Meanwhile, on the 20th of 
February 1804 ne na d moved eastward to Hindoun to 
cover the principal roads leading into British territory ; 

March 8. and marching thence northward on the 8 th of March, 
halted on the 10th at Ramghar. Here again Holkar's 
messengers visited him and made extravagant demands ; 
and shortly afterwards the chief threw aside all reserve, 
sent an emissary to Scindia to ask his assistance in anj 
immediate attack on the British, and openly plundered 
1 Wellesley Desp. iv. 3-9, 19-20, 45-48. 


the territories of the Rajah of Jeypore. On the 1804. 
1 6th of April Wellesley ordered Lake to commence April i< 

As in the case of Scindia, the Viceroy hoped to press 
upon his new enemy from all sides simultaneously. 
was Arthur Wellesley, since the peace with Scindia, had 
retired to southward and encamped about Ahmednuggur, 
moving from time to time to break up bands of free- 
booters which hung by tens of thousands about the 
Nizam's frontier. These little expeditions incidentally 
led him to make the most remarkable march of his 
whole career. On one occasion he started at six 
o'clock on the morning of the 4th of February with Feb. 4. 
the Nineteenth Light Dragoons, the native cavalry that 
had been with him at Assaye, the Seventy-fourth, a 
native battalion, five hundred Sepoys from different 
regiments, and four guns. Having travelled by noon 
twenty miles, he gave his men a halt of ten hours ; 
at ten o'clock at night he marched again, and by nine 
the next morning, in spite of bad roads and darkness, Feb. 5. 
reached his destination, only to find that the enemy 
had received warning of his coming and decamped. 
Following them up immediately, he overtook their rear, 
cut down many, captured all their baggage and guns, 
and by noon had dispersed them completely. Within 
thirty hours he reckoned that he had marched sixty 
miles, and the infantry arrived at the point of attack as 
soon as the cavalry. His own comment on this feat, 
of which he was justifiably proud, was apt and pithy. 
" I think we now begin to beat the Mahrattas in the 
celerity of our movements." 1 

With an army in such condition, it might be 
hoped that Holkar, even if he pursued the traditional 
Mahratta tactics, would quickly be brought to reason ; 
and it is somewhat noteworthy that this chief wrote on 
the 1st of February to Arthur Wellesley, speaking of 
him personally with great civility and respect, while using 
very different language of Lake. But since Holkar's 
1 Wellington Desp. iii. 43-45, 48. 

74 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

i 804. possessions, with the exception of Chandore, lay outside 
the Deccan, it was obvious that the operations would 
be confined to Guzerat and the frontiers of Hindostan, 
unless, as Arthur Wellesley early foresaw, the Mahratta 
chief should establish himself among the Sikhs and 
Afghans in the Punjaub. Moreover, as Wellesley said, if 
his troops went far to the north, fifty Holkars would 
certainly start up in the territories of the Peishwa and 
the Nizam ; for, in spite of the many hard lessons which 
he had taught to freebooters, these pests still flourished 
and increased in all the territories of the native 
princes. Also, owing to the famine that raged in the 
Deccan, the subsistence of any army north of Poona 
would be impossible. Wellesley therefore decided, 
upon the first alarm of a war with Holkar, to reinforce 
Guzerat with three of his native battalions in anticipation 
of any orders that he should receive from the Viceroy. 
Feb. 27. On the 27th of February a subsidiary treaty of defensive 
alliance had been concluded with Scindia ; and with 
Scindia's forces and the augmented force in Guzerat he 
reckoned that Colonel Murray should be able to 
penetrate from that city to Indore. Upon this plan, as 
he wrote to Murray, " we ought to be hanged if we do 
not get the better of Holkar in a shoft time." 1 

Great, therefore, was his surprise on learning, about 
the middle of April, that Lake depended upon Wellesley 's 
own troops in the south to defeat Holkar in case of a 
war, while the Commander-in-chief himself should 
look to the safety of Hindostan. The difficulty of the it 
situation was further complicated by the fact that for 
some time past not a word of instruction had been 
received from the Viceroy. In utter perplexity, Arthur 
Wellesley wrote to Lake that his plan was out of the a! 
question unless hostilities could be delayed until August,! 
that he doubted whether the prevailing famine would 
permit him even to advance to Chandore, much less to 
traverse the six hundred miles from Poona, where hi 
army was concentrated, to Indore. Even at Poona 
1 Wellington Desp. iii. 164-165, 171, 196. 



the horses of his own cavalry were living on rice ; 
^uJd further afield his Mysore Cavalry had lost one hundred 
horses in a single day from starvation. He could only 
recommend that Murray's force should operate from 
Guzerat, and Scindia's army from some position north 
of Ujjein, so as to attack Holkar in rear, while the 
)uld Commander-in-chief attacked him in front. Privately 
and he stated his opinion that, if Lake pressed Holkar 

vigorously, he could end the war in a fortnight ; but 
that if he stood upon the defensive merely with a view 
to foiling his enemy's raids and depredations, there was 
no saying where the contest would end. 1 

A fortnight later, on the 7th of May, Arthur M 
Wellesley received at last official intimation that 
hostilities had been declared on the 16th of April, 
whereupon he wrote careful instructions to Murray to 
take the field at once with his troops at Guzerat. 
During the war with Scindia Murray's part had, 
through no fault of his own, been obscure ; for the 
insurrection of a rebel who aspired to the place of the 
Gaekwar had prevented him from invading Scindia's 
territory, and limited his exertions to the keeping of 
the peace in his own district. The task now assigned 
to him was more honourable. He had under his com- 
mand at least two European and four native battalions, 
besides the native cavalry of the Gaekwar ; and since 
Arthur Wellesley could only guess at Holkar's probable 
movements, he left Murray a free hand, simply bidding 
him to march immediately, move rapidly, and attack 
Holkar whenever he could find an opportunity. Welles- 
ley's information did not allow him to state positively 
the point upon which it would be best to march, but he 
divined it to be Ujjein. As for himself, in obedience to 
the wishes of the Viceroy, he prepared to march north- 
ward. By the 1st of June rain enough had fallen to Ju 
ensure a supply of water, and he announced his intention 
of sending forward at any rate his train of battering 
cannon for the siege of Chandore. But three days 
1 Wellington Desp. iii. 231 seq., 235 seq. 

76 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

i 804. later he reported the dearth of food and forage to be 
such that it was impossible for him to move, and on 
the 8th he applied for leave to return home. By the 

June 24. 24th he had broken up his army, having no use for it 
in the field ; and his force therefore disappears for the 
present from the sphere of active operations. 

Meanwhile Lake, on receiving his orders to commence 

April 18. hostilities, had moved on the 18th of April towards 
Jeypore, to which town he had already pushed forward 
three battalions under Colonel Monson. Upon the 
appearance of this detachment Holkar retired pre- 
cipitately to the southward ; and Lake, still advancing, 

April 28. encamped on the 28th at Tonga, about fifteen miles 
south-west of Jeypore. Holkar, meanwhile, continued 
his flight to the south, followed by Lake's irregular 
cavalry, which reported his condition to be miserable. 
But he completely distanced Monson's detachment, 
which moved in advance of the main body, and of 
course left Lake's principal army far in rear. After a 
week's halt at Tonga, Lake again moved southward 
and, after much delay through violent storms and rain, 
May 8. on the 8th of May reached Nowai, about forty miles 

May 1 o. south of Jeypore. From hence on the 1 oth he detached 
Lieutenant -colonel Don with two^epoy battalions, 
a regiment of native cavalry and guns to attack 
Rampoora, a fortified town rather over thirty miles 
to south-eastward, which was Holkar's only strong- 
hold to north of the Chumbul. Arrived before the 
town, Don, to disarm suspicion, encamped in an opposite 
direction to the principal gate, and at two o'clock on 
May 1 5. the morning of the 15th sallied forth to the attack. 
Under his personal command he took eight companies, 
together with one twelve-pounder to blow up the gates. 
To protect his rear against a body of hostile troops 
which had moved up from Tonk, and to keep down 
any fire from the ramparts, he employed three more 
companies and four guns ; his cavalry he reserved to 
pursue the garrison in the event of its flight. So 
incautious was the enemy that the column was within 


lone hundred yards of the walls before a shot was fired 1804. 
Jfrom the town. The gates were then promptly blown 
J up, and the garrison driven out into the plain, where 
■great numbers were cut down by the cavalry. The 
■base with which this success was gained seems to point 
J to extremely able management on the part of the 

Deprived thus of his one fortress in the district, 
I Holkar, who had for the moment turned northward, 
Jrecrossed the Chumbul ; and Lake, whose troops were 
Bsuffering greatly from the heat, decided to abandon the 
[further pursuit of him. He therefore left two parties 
jof irregulars under Captain Gardiner and Lieutenant 
jiLucan to watch his movements, and committed the 
lultimate destruction of him to Murray, with his troops 
Jfrom Guzerat, and to Colonel Monson. Since Monson's 
Sthree battalions were supplemented by auxiliaries of 
jthe Rajah of Jeypore, he reckoned that each of these 
Jofficers would be strong enough to deal with Holkar 
■independently in case of an action. 

Lake therefore retired eastward, and on the 27th May 27. 
■regained his old camping-ground at Hindoun. During 
jthe last four days of his march he buried some fifty Euro- 
pean soldiers who had succumbed to the sun, the thermo- 
meter marking one hundred and thirty degrees Fahrenheit 
in the shade. The mortality was greatly increased by 
the scarcity of water ; and on resuming his march he 
separated his force into two columns so as to move the 
more quickly. Still, however, the men continued to fall 
down, the Sepoys and the camp-followers almost as fast 
as the Europeans ; and a single march of eighteen miles 
cost the army the loss of over two hundred and fifty 
natives and about thirty British soldiers. Ultimately 
the main body, after dispersing several corps to various 
stations on the way, marched into Cawnpore on the 
20th of June. Possibly its losses would hardly have June 20. 
been greater if it had followed up Holkar and left him 
no rest, as had been the desire of Arthur Wellesley. 
Thus the principal army was withdrawn into canton- 

78 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1804. men ts, and the prosecution of the war was left to 
detachments, scattered in various directions for the 
purpose rather of preventing Holkar from doing 
mischief than of ending his career for ever by hunting 
him until he had not a man left. And now came a 
series of mishaps. The operations undertaken by 
Colonel Powell for the reduction of Bundelcund had 
met with so little resistance as to be unworthy of 
detailed notice ; and though the province always lay 
open to predatory raids from Holkar's partisans and 
other freebooters, of whom one, Meer Khan, was the 
most notable, the seven thousand troops which had been 
allotted to the service were amply sufficient to beat any 
number of banditti. It so happened, however, that 
Colonel Powell and the officer next senior to him died ; 
and that the command passed into the hands of a 
certain Colonel Fawcett, who, to judge by Lake's 
language, was an officer of unique incapacity. However 
that may be, Fawcett, whose headquarters were at 
Koonch, to west and south of Kalpee, must needs on the 

May 21. 2 1 st of May send out seven native companies, a troop 
of horse and five guns, under a certain Captain Smith, to 
reduce a small fort within a few miles of his camp. 
The ostensible purpose of this operation was to obtain 
forage, there being none left in the district except in 
the villages of chieftains who refused to acknowledge 
the British authority. At midnight came reports that 
five thousand predatory horse were in the vicinity ; and 

May 22. two hours later native messengers hurried in with 
intelligence that Meer Khan himself with fifteen or 
twenty thousand followers was within three miles of the 
camp. The troops were at once turned out, and 
Fawcett despatched an order to Smith to return to 
camp immediately. To this Smith replied that he had 
occupied a village under the fort against which he had 
been sent, that he could not draw off the men quartered 
in it without much loss, and that he hoped to return to 
camp directly after dark. The truth of the matter was 
that he had stationed the guns with fifty European 



artillery-men and two companies of infantry in the 1804. 
village to attack the fort, and kept the remaining five 
companies half a mile apart from them, being apparently 
possessed by the idea that, when sent with a few hundred 
men to reduce a petty stronghold, he must divide them 
into besieging army and covering army. 

The predatory bands had no taste for an attack on 
the camp at Koonch ; but they speedily discovered the 
two isolated companies, fell upon them in overwhelming 
numbers by surprise, cut them to pieces to a man, and 
carried off the guns. Fawcett, growing anxious as the 
morning wore on, marched out at two o'clock in the 
afternoon with his whole force to rescue Smith, and 
presently came upon him with his five companies, his 
troop of horse and one galloping gun intact, having 
made his way through his contemptible enemy without 
the slightest difficulty. Smith had retreated directly 
after hearing from a fugitive of the fate of his two 
companies, but apparently had made no effort to rescue 
them when firing had been first heard in the village ; 
and to this negligence the whole of the detachment, 
including five European officers and five guns, had 
been sacrificed. 1 

But this was not the worst of the misconduct in this 
affair. It was presently discovered that the leader of 
the raid was not Meer Khan, but an ordinary robber of 
no great fame or station, and that his force did not 
exceed the strength of five thousand men. Emboldened 
by his success, this ruffian pursued his way to Kalpee, 
marking his path by cruelty, plunder, and devastation, 
attacked the town and attempted to cross the Jumna. 
But, being beaten back by two companies of Sepoys, he 
returned by a fresh route to Koonch, where on the 30th May 
of May he was met and very roughly handled by a 
small party of irregular levies lately taken into service 
by the British from a native chieftain. Yet it was from 
this rabble that Fawcett allowed himself to receive a 
very forcible and unpleasant blow, and that without 
1 Wellesley Desp. iv. 71 seq. 

80 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii , 

1804. attempting to return it; for after much aimless : 
marching to and fro, which cost the lives of many men ] 
from heat and exhaustion, he retired to Kalpee, having \ 
done his best to spread consternation from end to end ( 
of Bundelcund. 

Lake, much annoyed, superseded him instantly, and 1 
placed Captain Smith under arrest. Lord Wellesley, j 
still more angry, ordered Fawcett to be tried at once 
by court-martial ; but the mischief was done, and there f 
was no saying how far it might extend. Happily one ] 
officer, Captain Baillie, though in command of no more ; 
than fifteen hundred native levies, refused to share in j 
the panic ; and, from his station at Banda, he by his ; 
firmness and courage maintained confidence and tran- , 
quillity to south of the Betwa. 1 

Meanwhile Holkar had continued his retreat south- ( 
ward almost to Ujjein, still followed by Gardiner, who j 
May 30. on the 30th of May had made a successful attack upon - 
one of Holkar's underlings, forcing two thousand men j 
to surrender and capturing all their baggage. Monson, < 
also, having been reinforced by Don to a total j 
strength of five and a half regular native battalions, j 

June, moved southward, and at the beginning of June | 
reached Kotah, about sixty miles south of Rampoora. , 
Here he was joined by a contingent of troops in the , 
service of the Rajah of Kotah, after which he continued ; 
his movement for about thirty miles south-eastward to j 
the Pass of Mokundra. After a short halt to collect ( 
supplies he resumed his march on the 28th of June, 
July 1. and on the 1st of July arrived near the fortress of 
Hinglaisgurh, an ancient and much-valued possession 
of Holkar's family. Here he ascertained that Holkar 
was encamped with his whole force between forty and 
fifty miles to south-westward on the other bank of the 
Chumbul. He determined, therefore, to attack the 
fort at once, and accordingly carried it by assault 
July 2. on the following day with little trouble but con- 
siderable loss. This done, he again moved forward, and 

1 Wellesley Desp. iv. 84, 127-129. 



finally took up a position about fifty miles south of the 1804. 
Mokundra pass, where he was informed that he would 
be able to secure supplies. He was expecting also to 
open communications with Murray, who, as he knew, 
had received orders to march upon Ujjein ; and Ujjein 
was, as the crow flies, not , above seventy miles distant 
from his encampment. 

Now Murray had received instructions, advice, and 
encouragement from Arthur Wellesley which would 
have stirred the spirit of almost any other man to 
abnormal energy and enterprise. " You have a great 
game in your hands," the General had written on the 
22nd of May ; and the unerring instinct with which, 
weeks before and with no information, Arthur Wellesley 
had selected Ujjein as Murray's destination, should have 
convinced that officer that by following his instructions 
he could not go far wrong. But instead of being full of 
ardour, Murray was full of complaints. He bewailed 
his lack of cavalry, which was indeed serious, for both 
Scindia and the Gaekwar had evaded the duty of 
providing it ; he bewailed his weakness in numbers, 
though on the 1st of June he had five thousand eight 
hundred men fit for duty ; finally he bewailed his 
want of European troops, though his army included 
more than had fought either with Lake or Wellesley 
in the previous campaign. Arthur Wellesley wrote to 
him in terms which showed his disapprobation of this 
querulous spirit; and accordingly, at the beginning of June. 
June, Murray began his march from Baroda. He was 
much hampered by the difficulty of obtaining transport, 
supplies, and forage, though indeed his troubles in this 
way were no greater than those that had been overcome 
by Wellesley in the campaign of 1803. By the middle 
of June he arrived at Dohad, about eighty miles north- 
east of Baroda, where it had been arranged that he 
should deposit his heavy ordnance and stores ; and on 
the 30th of June he reached Badnawar, forty miles west June 30, 
of Ujjein. Here he received a letter from Monson, 
reporting that the main body of the army had gone into 


82 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

i 804. cantonments, and that he had halted his own detach- 
ment at the Mokundra Pass, pending further orders 2 
from the Commander-in-chief. At the same time in- t 
telligence reached Murray that Holkar was bringing his 1 
whole force forward to attack him ; whereupon, dis- f 
liking his situation at Badnawar, he turned about, and t 
on the following day retreated towards the Myhee, f 
intending to take up a strong position in rear of the I 

If this decision be reviewed from a strictly theoretic 1 
standpoint, it seems difficult to quarrel with it, more t 
especially since Murray reported that the heat and 1 
fatigue of the march had already cost him three I 1 
thousand men — a loss which Arthur Wellesley found r 
it difficult, except upon very unflattering hypotheses, to t 
account for. But it is certain that Lake blamed him I 
very much for his retreat ; and the taking up of a I 
defensive position against a Mahratta force was the t 
thing of all others against which Wellesley had warned I 
him. Beyond all doubt Lake or Wellesley himself, in 2 
2l like situation, would have marched straight against t 
Holkar and attacked him ; but such boldness was not j 
to be found in Murray. He had tlo confidence in 1 
himself, and, as he was to prove far too often before he i 
was finally laid aside, he was both incapable and 1 
unenterprising. He retreated accordingly for four I 

J ul Y 5- days until on the 5th of July he heard that Holkar 
had moved eastward ; whereupon he faced about, and 
finding nothing to impede his march, arrived on the 
8th at Ujjein. 1 

But meanwhile Monson also had begun to retreat. 

July 7. On the 7th he received intelligence that Holkar was 
crossing the Chumbul with his whole army and every 
gun that he possessed ; and his first instinct was to 
march at once to the spot and attack him. He 
remembered, however, on reflection that he had but 
two days' grain in his camp, that part of his force had 
been detached to bring up more grain, that one of his 
1 Wellington Desp. iii. 439 ; Wellesley Desp. iv. 374-375. 


battalions was on march to join him from Hinglaisgurh, 1804. 
and that he was expecting a convoy with treasure for 
the troops. In fact, shortly after he began his 
movement he heard of Murray's retreat, and could 
find any number of reasons for not attacking, because, 
though a brave man, he was afraid to attack. His 
force was not weak, for, over and above the five 
battalions already with him, he had been joined not 
only by Gardiner's irregulars under Lieutenant Lucan, 
but also by Scindia's contingent of horse which ought 
to have joined Murray, under the leadership of a 
native chief, Bappojee Scindia. This gave him in 
all nearly three thousand cavalry ; but he had 
no European troops, and like Murray he had not 
the nerve of Wellesley and Lake. Moreover, he had 
been unwise in trusting to the Rajah of Kotah to 
furnish him with supplies, a duty which native chief- 
tains were always ready to undertake but could never 
be trusted to perform ; and lastly, he had certainly 
advanced further than was consistent with safety in 
order to ;apture a petty fort, which gave him no 
accession of strength or resources, but rather weakened 
him by the amount of a small garrison which he could 
ill spare. These, though serious, might be deemed 
venial mistakes, easily to be redeemed by a bold attack ; 
but instead of attack Monson chose retreat. 

On the morning of the 8th he began his retrograde July 8. 
movement towards the Mokundra Pass, sending off 
his baggage and stores at four in the morning, but 
remaining with the main body in line of battle until 
half-past nine. As the enemy made no appearance, he 
then led the retreat with the infantry, leaving the 
cavalry to form the rear-guard, which was exactly the 
reverse of Wellesley's practice in similar circumstances. 
He had not traversed more than twelve miles when 
he received intelligence that the rear-guard was attacked 
by the whole of Holkar's cavalry ; and soon after- 
wards Bappojee Scindia galloped up with the news that 
his men and Lucan's had been totally defeated, and 

84 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1804. that Lucan himself, an excellent and gallant officer, was 
July 8. wounded and taken prisoner. There was therefore 
nothing to be done but to continue the retreat to the 
Mokundra Pass, which was safely reached without any 
July 9. molestation at noon of the following day. 

Here Monson halted with some idea of turning the 
strength of the position to account, though he was still 
troubled by uncertainty about his supplies. At noon of 

July 10. the morrow Holkar appeared with his cavalry in great 
force, and after summoning the British to surrender, 
attacked them at three different points in front and 
flanks, but was beaten off at all. He then fell back a 
few miles to await the coming of his infantry and 
artillery ; and Monson, fearing to be cut off from 
Kotah and starved, marched again on the following 

July 11. morning. Heavy and incessant rain had set in on the 
10th, and the troops suffered much from the weary 
tramp through the deep black cotton soil. They did 

July 12. not reach Kotah until the 12th, when the Rajah was un- 
able to supply them with provisions ; and Monson was 
fain to drag on his men for seven weary miles further 
before he could obtain food for them. Fortunately he 
was able to cross the Chumbul in tfte Rajah's boats, 
which he sank after using them, and so reached his 

July 13. destination on the morning of the 13th. There he 
halted for two days, first because his way was barred 
by a flooded stream, and secondly because of the 
imperative need for collecting a small quantity of 
victuals ; the natural consequences of attempting a 
campaign without pontoons, transport, or supplies. 

July 15. On the 15th the march was resumed, but was presently 
stopped by the state of the roads ; and on the following 

July 16. day, the provisions being absolutely exhausted and the 
guns sunk too deeply in the mud to be recoverable, 
Monson abandoned his artillery and destroyed the 
ammunition. He then proceeded on his way through a 
country completely under water, only to be stopped again 

July 17. within twenty-four hours by the Chambalee, in itself a 
mere rivulet, but now swollen to an unfordable torrent. 



Matters were fast becoming desperate. The 1804. 
European artillery-men were sent through the flood 
on elephants, but the rest of the army was detained, 
and only with great difficulty contrived to collect 
grain for two days from neighbouring villages. The 
halt enabled Holkar's cavalry to come up, though the 
advance of his guns also had been much delayed by the 
rains. Monson, however, proved that he had not 
served with Lake to no purpose, for he promptly 
attacked the nearest Mahratta camp, took several of 
their animals, and thus secured for himself respect. At 
length, on the 23rd his force was able to begin the July 2 
passage of the flooded stream in rafts, while two 
battalions were detached under Colonel Don to find a 
ford. Even so two entire days were consumed in the 
crossing, though the enemy's cavalry made no serious 
attack and was easily beaten off with considerable loss. 
Finally, on the 27 th Monson's battalions arrived at July 2 
Rampoora and were able to send supplies to Don's 
detachment, which came in safely on the 29th. All July 2 
were alike utterly exhausted, having consumed their 
last provisions even before the crossing of the 

At Rampoora Monson found two battalions of Sepoys 
with their guns, a body of Hindostani cavalry under a 
British officer, Major Frith, and a certain quantity of 
grain ; all which had been sent from Agra by Lake 
immediately upon his hearing of the retreat. But here 
again there had been neglect. Rampoora was held as 
a post for the purpose of checking Holkar's movements, 
or, in other words, as an advanced base of operations ; 
yet no effort had been made to convert it in reality 
into such a base by filling it up with abundance of 
supplies. Monson set himself to collect provisions, 
but with no great success, for up to the 20th of August Aug. 2 
he had succeeded in gathering only twelve days' supply 
for his own force. Meanwhile Holkar, though much 
delayed by floods, had continued his advance ; and by 
that same day had approached within twelve or fifteen 



i 804. miles of Rampoora. At this Monson became anxious. 
It is not easy to explain why, looking to the difficulties 
which he had found in obtaining victuals, he did 
not earlier continue his retreat ; it is still less easy 
to explain why he did not march out boldly and attack. 
His mind appears to have been made up for him by 
Lake, from whom on this same day he received a letter, 
desiring him to retire to Jeypore if he thought that he 
might be again in distress for his supplies. Accordingly, 
leaving a garrison in Rampoora, he marched on the j 

Aug. 21. 2 1st with five and a half battalions and two howitzers 
north-eastward upon Kooshalghur. 

The first march brought him to the river Banas, 
which, as might have been foreseen, was in flood and 
unfordable. Three boats, however, were found, and in 
these the treasure was sent forward under escort of six 
companies with orders to proceed at once to Kooshalghur, 
some twenty miles away as the crow flies. The rest of 
the force perforce halted ; and early next morning 
Holkar's cavalry appeared, and encamped four miles 

Aug. 24. away. On the 24th the river became fordable ; and by 
eight o'clock in the morning Monson Jiad thrown across 
it the whole of his baggage, with one battalion for 
escort. The enemy meanwhile had occupied a village 
on his right, from which he promptly dislodged them 
with little loss to himself ; but, as the river fell lower, 
the Mahratta cavalry began to pass it in great numbers 
upon both flanks, and Monson therefore sent over three 
more battalions and a howitzer for the better protection 
of his baggage. He was now left on the south bank of 
the river with his picquets and a single battalion to 
support them, and he could see that any attempt to 
withdraw these before dark must lead to their inevitable 
destruction. Unfortunately the darkness did not come 
soon enough for him. At four o'clock Holkar's infantry 
and guns appeared, and his batteries presently opened 
a heavy cannonade upon Monson's little party. The 
Colonel at once retorted by charging the guns with his 
infantry and capturing one line of them ; but Holkar 


met this attack by a destructive fire from a second line 1804. 
of cannon, while his infantry and cavalry came up on all 
sides of the unhappy detachment. The Sepoys having 
suffered heavy loss, gave way, and Monson ordered a 
retreat to the river ; but the enemy's horse pressed hard 
upon him, and the retreat soon became a panic rush for 
the ford. The Mahrattas plunged in after the fugitives, 
and were bidding fair to annihilate the whole of them, 
when one of the British battalions on the north side of 
the river came down to the bank ; whereupon the 
pursuit instantly ceased and the enemy retired. 

This respite enabled Monson and a few men to Aug. 24 
escape, but it was of short duration ; for Holkar's guns 
presently unlimbered before the ford, and under cover 
of their fire his cavalry began to cross the river. 
Monson meanwhile lost no time, but forming his 
troops into a hollow square, and letting the baggage 
take its chance, he pressed on to Kooshalghur, with 
the enemy's cavalry clinging to his rear all the way, 
and arrived there in safety on the evening of the 
25 th. Here he found the treasure with its escort, Aug. 25 
but not, as he had hoped, a large reinforcement of 
infantry and cavalry from the Rajah of Jeypore. On 
the morning of the 26th Holkar's cavalry overtook and Aug. 26 
encamped all round him ; and now came the most 
terrible moment of all. The native officers of two of 
his battalions, Sepoys of the British service, were found 
to be in correspondence with Holkar ; two companies 
actually deserted, and half of Frith 's irregulars went off 
at the same time. Happily the two remaining battalions 
remained faithful, and at seven o'clock on the evening 
of the 26th Monson renewed his march. Constantly Aug. 26 
harassed by the enemy's cavalry and horse-artillery, he 
reached Hindoun on the evening of the 27th, with the Aug. 27 
greater part of his baggage lost and the troops in the 
last stage of exhaustion. 

Halting until midnight, he marched again at one 
o'clock on the morning of the 28th, to be overtaken at Aug. 28 
daylight as usual by the enemy's horse. Bolder than 

88 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

i 804. W as their wont, the Mahratta cavalry made a desperate 
Aug. 28. c h ar g e m three bodies up to the very bayonets of the 
Sepoys, but being beaten off with heavy loss, kept at 
a respectful distance for the rest of the day. Sunset 
brought Monson to the Biana Pass, at the entrance of 
which he halted, hoping to give a little rest to his worn 
and weary troops ; but the Mahrattas, bringing their 
guns up on all sides, forced him to move on. At nine 
o'clock he entered the city of Biana in pitchy darkness, 
the baggage being mixed up with the troops in the 
greatest confusion; and, all attempts to restore order 
being fruitless, the various corps made their way to Agra 
Aug. 31. as best they could. By dawn of the 31st all the sur- 
vivors had arrived ; and then the reckoning of the 
disaster was taken. Twelve British officers had been 
killed, two more had been drowned, two more were 
missing, and five others had been wounded ; while of 
five and a half fine battalions little more than one half 
were left, through the sword, fatigue, and desertion. It 
was the heaviest blow that had fallen on the British 
in India since the destruction of Baillie's detachment. 

There was less recrimination than usually follows 
upon such occurrences. Monson blame"d Murray for his 
retreat as the cause of all the trouble ; and Murray 
retorted that his retreat was due to Monson's own 
retrograde movement. Arthur Wellesley, as a friend i 
of all parties, drew out a searching analysis of the entire 
expedition, which is among the most remarkable of his 
papers. He criticised Monson for not attacking 
Holkar on three different occasions, first before he 
began his first retreat, secondly before he retired from 
Rampoora, and thirdly before he crossed the Banas. 
He blamed him also for halting unduly long at the 
Mokundra Pass and, even more, at Rampoora, where 
his delay, as Lake said, was fatal. But Wellesley's 
final conclusion was that the detachment was doomed 
to destruction, even if Holkar had not attacked them 
with infantry and artillery ; or, to put the truth 
into words which he carefully avoided setting down, 



the ultimate fault lay with Lake, the Commander-in- 1804. 

The operation assigned to Monson was in fact most 
hazardous. He was ordered vaguely to march far 
away at the beginning of the rainy season, into a 
country everywhere seamed with deep water-courses 
and rivers, without any regular system of supplies or 
any organised provision for crossing the waters. Nothing 
could better have played into the hands of the Mahrattas, 
whose practice in warfare had for years been the same. 
By means of their cavalry they ravaged the country 
until want of provisions compelled their enemy to 
retreat, followed him up with that same cavalry while 
in motion, and surrounded him with infantry and 
artillery when he halted. The way to foil these tactics 
was that adopted by Wellesley ; namely, for a com- 
mander to amass supplies enough to make himself 
independent of the country, to organise the transport- 
service to the utmost perfection in order to carry those 
supplies, and finally always to possess the means of 
passing rivers. Attention has already been called to 
the fact that Wellesley made the acquisition of a 
pontoon-train his first object upon the menace of a 
Mahratta war. Failing to obtain it, he fell back on 
wicker-boats, made by his own troops and covered 
with hides ; but in addition to this he had established 
a regular post with boats upon every unfordable river 
from Seringapatam to Poona. Thus it was that he 
was able to carry on his campaign during a famine, 
and chose, as a preferable time for a Mahratta war, the 
opening of the rainy season. In brief, by leaving 
nothing to chance, but thinking out every detail 
beforehand, he was able to organise victory. 

Lake had given no such forethought to his projects 
when he ordered Monson's detachment to pursue 
Holkar to Ujjein. It seems, too, that the numbers of 
Holkar's infantry and artillery — for he was reported to 
have one hundred and seventy-five guns — came as a 
surprise to every one ; for all previous intelligence, 

9o HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

i 804. during his retreat before Lake, showed his force to be 
an undisciplined rabble upon the verge of starvation, 
whereas in fact he had fallen back upon his main body 
of infantry and guns. On the other hand, both Lord 
Wellesley and Lake had counted upon a respectable 
contingent of troops, to be furnished according to treaty 
by Dowlut Rao Scindia ; but that chief had steadily 
evaded the discharge of his obligation. Nevertheless, in * 
Monson's place Lake would by a happy instinct most 
probably have avoided Monson's blunders, and carried 
the expedition to a victorious issue. Indeed it was one 
of Lake's failings that he gave every commander credit 
for possessing that instinct, and could not understand how 
any man could possibly lack it. Arthur Wellesley, on 
the other hand, reasoned matters out, and ensured that, 
if the instinct were wanting, sound and logical instruc- 
tions should in some measure take its place. Lake 
expected a man to fight his way out of any difficulty 
that might arise out of want of provisions, wished him 
good luck, and sent him on his way ; and it is probable 
that he himself, having a real genius for a pitched 
battle, could have acted successfully upon his own 
precepts. Arthur Wellesley, on the Other hand, told a 
commander that if he made sure of his supplies in the 
first instance, he could not fail of success. Lake's 
system might suffice for one man ; Wellesley's gave a 
chance of success to any man. 

Yet, to do the Chiefs justice, they did not turn upon 
Monson. Lord Wellesley had expected the ruin of his 
force from the first hour of its retreat, and was relieved 
to find that any part of it had escaped ; " but," he 
added, " whatever the result of his misfortunes to my 
own fame, I will endeavour to shield his character from 
obloquy, nor will I attempt the mean purpose of 
sacrificing his reputation to save mine." Lake's answer 
was not less worthy and honourable. " My dear 
lord ... all blame ought to fall upon me for detaching 
the force in the first instance ... all censure for that 
measure must be attributed to me and to me alone, and 


if called upon I am ready to answer for it before the 1804. 
House of Commons ... I stand perfectly at ease on 
that score, unless it may be said that I left too much to 
the discretion of Colonel Monson." Misfortunes were 
not likely to be irretrievable with two such men in 
command in India. 1 

1 The authorities for the account of Monson's retreat are : — 
Wellesky Desp. iv. 197 seq., 204, 213-217 ; Wellington Desp. iii. 
438, 443, 455-463 ; Thorn, Memoir of the Late War in India, pp. 


1804. The consequences of the disaster to Monson's detach- 
ment were not slow to show themselves. Bappoo Scindia 
deserted to Holkar ; the Jats, lately our allies, turned 
against us and threatened to seize our newly-acquired 
territory in Hindostan ; and the conduct of Dowlut 
Rao Scindia became more and more suspicious. Most 
dangerous of all was a fact revealed by a correspond- 
ence which had been intercepted by Monson during his 
stay at Rampoora, namely, that the Rajah of Bhurtpore, 
though bound to the British by recent treaty, was 
conspiring with Holkar to drive them from India. 
Indeed the political consequences of the disaster seemed 
likely to be far-reaching beyond all calculation ; but 
fortunately the chiefs of every department were not 
men who shrank from danger or exertion. The 
Viceroy, even before Monson marched from Rampoora, 
had decided that the Commander-in-chief must take 
the field again in person with his army ; and Lake, 
eager to meet his wishes and to crush the power of 
Holkar, gave orders for the troops at once to march 
from their cantonments and assemble at Agra. Arthur 
Wellesley, though still resolved to go home, made 
active preparations for the forced march to Chandore 
of a column under Colonel Wallace, drew up a scheme 
for Wallace's operations, wrote to Murray an admirable 
letter as to the best means of carrying out the operations 
entrusted to him, and, by no means the worst of his 
measures, recommended that Murray himself should be 
superseded as soon as possible. 1 

1 Wellesley Desp. iv. 189, 197 ; Wellington Desp. iii. 447 seq., 453, 
463 seq., 468. 



Meanwhile Holkar pursued his victorious march, 1804. 
and after some delay in the Biana Pass, arrived before 
Muttra with the whole of his cavalry ; while his 
infantry and artillery, far in the rear, toiled forward to- 
wards Delhi. The garrison of Muttra, which counted 
five battalions of Sepoys, two regiments of native cavalry, 
and a proportion of artillery, evacuated the place on the 
15th of September, apparently in some haste, for it left Sept. 15 
behind not only much baggage but a large quantity 
of grain, which must have been very welcome to 
Holkar's hungry horsemen. However, the Jumna, 
being in heavy flood, forbade the invasion of the Doab 
by any but small parties of the enemy, which were easily 
driven out ; and thus less harm was done than might 
have been apprehended. Meanwhile Lake's regiments 
had marched from Cawnpore on the 3rd of September, Sept. 3. 
at the very height of the rains, crossed to the south 
bank of the Jumna on the 22nd, and reached the Sept .22 
rendezvous at Secundra, about six miles outside Agra, 
a few days later. The force consisted of the Eighth, 
'Twenty-seventh, and Twenty-ninth Light Dragoons, 
with five regiments of native cavalry, the Seventy- 
sixth Foot, the flank companies of the Twenty- 
second, and ten battalions of native infantry. A 
week was lost through the necessity of awaiting 
supplies ; and on the 1st of October Lake advanced Oct. 1. 
upon Muttra. 1 

1 Cavalry. Colonel Macan, H.E.I.C.S. 

1st Brigade. Lt.-Col. Vandeleur, H.M. 8th L.D., 2nd, 3rd, 
6th Bengal N.C. 

znd Brigade. Lt.-Col. T. Browne, H.M. 27th and 29th L.D., 

1st and 4th Bengal N.C. 
European Horse Artillery. 

Infantry. Major-General Fraser, H.M.S. 

1st Brigade. Lt.-Col. Monson, H.M. 76th, 1 /2nd, 1 /4th Bengal N.I. 
znd Brigade. Lt.-Col. G. S. Browne, i and 2/1 5 th, i/2ist Bengal 

yd Brigade. Lt.-Col. Ball, i/8th, 2/2 2nd Bengal N.I. 

Reserve. Lt.-Col. Don, Flank cos. H.M. 22nd, 1 and 2/1 2th, 

2/2lSt N.I. 



1804. On the morning of the 2nd large bodies of hostile 
Oct. 2. horse were encountered, but showed no disposition to 
Oct. 3. stand and were easily dispersed. On the 3rd the enemy 
succeeded in capturing some baggage as well as a small 
convoy which was on its way to Lake from Agra ; and on 
that same evening the General reoccupied Muttra. Here 
he was detained for some days by lack of victuals ; but on 
Oct. 7. the 7th, learning that Holkar had assembled the whole of 
his cavalry about four miles away, he moved out before 
dawn to attack him. But the alarm had been given 
before Lake reached the camp ; and the Mahrattas 
instantly fled with such precipitation that only the 
galloping guns of the cavalry could come into action 
and knock down a few horses and men. The 
General, therefore, returned to Muttra ; and Holkar 
promptly moved back to his former camp. On the 

Oct. 10. 10th Lake made a second attempt upon him, leading 
the infantry only against his front and sending the 
cavalry round by a wide circuit to cut off his retreat ; 
but the Mahrattas were too wary to be caught, and fled 
as before, though they returned, according to their 
wont, directly the British faced about to retire, and 
hung about their flanks and rear. 

Oct. 12. At length on the 12th Lake was able to pursue his 
march to the relief of Delhi, which he now knew to be 
besieged. The enemy still clung round him ; and two 
fortified towns on the road, having been provided with 
guns by Holkar, threatened resistance ; but Lake 

Oct. 18. passed them by, and on the 18th came up to Delhi, 
from which the Mahratta infantry and artillery had 
already beaten a hasty retreat. Lake started to pursue 

Oct. 19. them on the 19th, hoping to capture their guns ; but 
once again he was detained by disappointment in the 
matter of supplies, and the opportunity was lost. 
Delhi, meanwhile, had made a creditable defence, 
though its fortifications were in ruins. The resident, 
Colonel Ochterlony, had early divined from the direction 
of Holkar's march that he would attempt the capture 
of the place, and had promptly called in a battalion and 


a half of Sepoys which were within reach, supplementing 1804. 
them further with twelve hundred local levies. On 
arriving before the walls on the 7th of October the Oct. 7. 
enemy lost no time in erecting batteries against the 
south-west angle of the city, whereby in a few days 
the parapet was demolished and the walls greatly 
damaged. A sortie was therefore made upon these 
batteries, which were stormed with great success, the 
British Sepoys spiking every gun and inflicting heavy 
loss at small cost to themselves. The enemy then 
shifted their guns to the southern face, where a breach 
was made, but was speedily rendered useless by retrench- 
ments ; and on the 14th they attempted an assault on Oct. 14. 
the Lahore gate, from which they were beaten back with 
considerable loss. Finally, on the 15th they raised the Oct. 15. 
siege and retired, knowing that Lake was in full march 
upon them and having no taste for an encounter with 
his cavalry. It was a creditable feat that with so few 
men Ochterlony should for nine days have held a city 
ten miles in circumference. 

Having failed at Delhi, Holkar sent back his infantry 
by a circuitous route through the hills towards Deig, 
a strong fortress belonging to the Rajah of Bhurtpore, 
about twenty-five miles west and south of Muttra ; but 
while moving with his cavalry up the Jumna to Paniput, 
he himself crossed the river with the object of giving 
the Doab a taste of the old Mahratta tactics. As soon 
as Lake was apprised of these movements, he determined 
to divide his force, giving the bulk of the infantry, the 
field-artillery, and two regiments of native cavalry to 
Major-general Fraser to watch the force at Deig, while 
he himself should pursue Holkar across the Jumna with 
the rest of the cavalry, the horse-artillery, the two 
companies of the Twenty-second, and three battalions 
of Sepoys. 

He was unable to march until the 31st of October, Oct. 31. 
when he proceeded in the lightest order. The usual 
number of tents was reduced by one half ; private 
wheeled carriages were absolutely forbidden ; and every 


96 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1 804. fighting man carried six pounds of flour, which was 
to last him six days. The first day's march, including 
the passage of the Jumna, was of ten miles ; the second 
covered fifteen miles ; and the third, in consequence 
of bad news, was extended to thirty miles. The single 
battalion which formed the garrison of Saranpoor had 
been withdrawn for the defence of Delhi ; and the 
Sikhs, who were inclined to throw in their lot with 
Holkar, had seized the opportunity to blockade the 
British resident in the place. Worse than this, the 
battalion itself, while marching to relieve Saranpoor, 
had been surrounded at Shamlee, between fifty and 
sixty miles due north of Delhi, by Holkar's horse, ft 
and was known to be in great straits. Happily the to 
commander, Colonel Burn, being a capable soldier, 
had thrown himself into a ruined fort about a hundred 
yards square, where, though suffering heavily from the L 0 
enemy's sharp-shooters, he was able to hold his own 

Nov. 3. until relieved by Lake's advance on the 3rd of |?j 
November. By that time his Hindoo Sepoys had 
been for some days without food, their caste not per- 
mitting them to share the flesh of draught-bullocks with 
the Mohammedans. The inhabitants ^f Shamlee having 
joined with the Mahratta matchlock-men in shooting 
at Burn's men, their town was given up to be plundered 
as a warning to others ; and after one day's halt Lake, 

Nov. 5. on the 5 th of November, resumed his pursuit of 

From Shamlee he turned eastward for fourteen miles, 
when he had the satisfaction of learning that an adjacent 
town, dreading the fate of its unhappy neighbour, had 
fired upon Jeswunt Rao's horsemen rather than admit 
them. Thus early was verified Arthur Wellesley's 
prediction, when he wrote to Lake that he had only 
to press Holkar hard to make every inhabitant turn 
Nov. 6. against him. On the 6th of November a march of 
twenty-four miles brought Lake to the residence of the 
Begum Somroo, who, having succeeded to the command 
of the troops raised by her husband, Reinhardt, was 



now called by his native name with the prefix of a native 1 
title. She was a very capable person, and a power 
in the land ; for which reason Holkar was conjectured 
to have pressed her to join her force to his own. Lake, 
however, followed so closely upon the Mahratta host 
as to remove all weight from its chief's representations ; 
and at noon of the 7th the British at last caught sight N 
of the enemy in full flight towards Meerut. On arriving 
there the next day Lake found that this town also had 
shut its gates upon Holkar and compelled him to double 
Dack twenty miles southward to Haper. Having left 
:wo Sepoy battalions and some irregular troops at 
Meerut, Lake followed him up, always from twenty 
:o thirty miles behind, but close enough to hearten 
ivery place to resist him and to leave him little time 
:o plunder any but unwalled towns. So the chase 
:ontinued at the rate of twenty miles a day, through 
:lusters of mischievous little forts and luckless burning 
tillages, south and eastward from Meerut to Malagur 
md Shikarpoor, thence across the Kali river, some 
ifteen miles north-west of Aligarh, to Coriagunge, 
vhich lies twelve miles to south-east of that fortress ; 
md thence, moving always south-eastward, by Klas- 
junge and Sirpoora to Aligunge, where Lake arrived 
)n the 1 6th. The village was still burning as he N 
narched by it, for Holkar's banditti, having been 
listurbed at the work of plunder, had solaced them- 
ielves by destruction ; but then came the welcome 
1 lews that Holkar was certainly at Furruckabad, 
hirty-six miles to eastward, a distance so great that 
le would assuredly judge himself safe against any 
t arly attack. 

5 At nine o'clock therefore on the same evening Lake's 
f|:avalry and horse-artillery were ready to move, without 
>aggage or encumbrance of any kind. Just before he 
tarted there reached him the news of a great success at 
)eig ; and, with this to excite them to rivalry, the 
roopers rode off under a radiant moon into the soft 
si/arm air of the night. Messenger after messenger 
1 vol. v H 

9 8 


804. joined the squadrons as they pursued their way, confirm- 
ing former intelligence as to Holkar's position ; and his 
encampment was not far distant, when the whole column 
was startled by a sudden terrific roar. By some unhappy 
accident a tumbril of the artillery had exploded ; and 
there was at least one man among the sleeping Mahratta 
host who heard it and took fright. Holkar had 
received bad news from Deig on the previous evening 
and had retired, without repeating it to a soul, to pass 
a sleepless night. The dull boom of the explosion 
roused him to alarm ; but his attendants reassured him. 1 
It was only the usual morning-gun at Futtehgarh, 1 
they said ; and the chief lay down again, while his men, 1 
rolled up in their blankets, slumbered comfortably on 
beside their horses. But ten minutes later the true 
morning-gun at Futtehgarh was fired ; and some at 
least of the Mahrattas rose uneasily, though many t 
thousands remained buried in sleep. 1 

. 1 7. The dawn was just breaking when the head of Lake's I 
column, having doubtless quickened its pace after the 0 
accident, reached the skirts of the camp ; and the guns b 
actually approached within range of grape-shot without 
giving the alarm. Then they opChed fire into the ti 
thickest of the crowded mass, and Holkar's lieutenants h 
ran to tell him that General Lake and the British were k 
upon him. He refused at first to believe them, ei 
knowing that his enemy had been thirty-six miles away th 
at night-fall ; but, being soon convinced, he mounted si: 
his horse and galloped off with such men as were aboul ye 
him south-westward towards Mainpooree ; nor did h( ac 
draw rein till he had passed the Kali eighteen miles away fc 
Meanwhile his unhappy men were left surprised, panic- so; 
stricken, and leaderless. The Eighth Light Dragoons an 
presently came spurring their jaded horses among them ch: 
the remaining regiments followed close behind ; and ther k 


1 Memoirs of John Shipp : edition of 1 843, p. 69. " Had it no i t 
been for the blowing up of a tumbril yesterday morning, I thinl 
we must have had Holkar." Lake to Wellesley, Nov. 18, 1804 
We lie sky Desp. iv. 241. 


followed such a slaughter as is never seen except when 1804. 
troops are thoroughly savage. Holkar had mutilated Nov - l 7- 
the prisoners taken from Monson and sent them back 
to Agra with right hands and noses cut off, so that 
there was some excuse for vengeance. Such of the 
Mahrattas as had horses rode for their lives, and were 
pursued for ten miles. Those whose steeds had 
foundered under the stress of the chase were cut down 
in all directions, or, climbing trees to conceal themselves, 
were discovered and shot by the pistols of the dragoons. 1 
A body of infantry which formed part of Holkar's 
force was totally destroyed by the Eighth Light 
Dragoons. In all it seems that literally three thousand 
of the enemy were killed ; and many more poor 
wretches were wounded, who crowded into all the 
villages around for shelter, or perished miserably on 
the plains too much exhausted to reach any refuge. 
The loss of the British was twenty- eight men and 
seventy-five horses killed and wounded, of which the 
only two men killed, besides thirteen of the wounded, 
belonged to the Eighth Light Dragoons. 

This was rather a massacre than a fight, but none 
the less was it a great feat of arms. The British column 
had traversed three hundred and fifty miles in a 
fortnight before it was called upon to make its crowning 
effort, and had actually covered twenty-two miles on 
the 15 th when it started for its night march of thirty- 
six more to Furruckabad. The pursuit led the cavalry 
it yet ten miles further afield, so that the total distance 
ic accomplished in the twenty -four hours, before the 
force finally encamped, exceeded seventy miles. And 
something more was achieved even than the total defeat 
is and dispersion of Holkar's army. For the Mahratta 
; chief had already burned the outer cantonment of 
s Furruckabad ; and though the Europeans, who were 
mostly civilians, had taken refuge in the fort and 
°j defended themselves bravely, they would probably have 

H 1 This is the only instance which I have ever encountered of 
pistols being of the slightest use to dragoons. 



1804. succumbed to an assault on the 17th but for Lake's 
swift march and most opportune arrival. 

Here therefore was Holkar's cavalry shattered to 
pieces ; and meanwhile his infantry had already under- 
gone the like fate. A few days after the departure of 
Lake, General Fraser, who had been detained at Delhi 
by want of supplies, was able to march due south 
Nov. 1 1. towards Deig. On the nth of November he reached 
Goverdun, a short distance from that fortress, and 
discovering the enemy to be close at hand, encamped 
there for the night. The Mahrattas had taken post in 
a narrow space running to southward from the south- 
east angle of the walls, and confined between a large 
deep tank 1 on one side and a still more extensive 
morass on the other. They had secured their flanks 
by resting their right on an eminence crowned by a 
fortified village, and their left on the fortress itself which, 
though it belonged to the Rajah of Bhurtpore, was in 
perfect understanding with the commanders of Holkar. 
Their strength, so far as could be ascertained, was 
twenty -four battalions, or at a moderate estimate 
fourteen thousand infantry with one hundred and sixty 
guns, besides a considerable body *of horse. Fraser 
had two British regiments, the Seventy-sixth and the 
Hundred-and-First, 2 the latter of which had recently 
joined the army, besides a detachment of recovered 
European invalids, six battalions of Sepoys, two 
regiments of native cavalry 3 and artillery. These may 
be taken at about one thousand British infantry, four 
thousand native infantry and seven hundred sabres, or 
about six thousand bayonets and sabres altogether. 4 

1 A tank is of course simply a pond ; the earlier form of the 
word, stank, being indeed identical with the French estang, etang* 
Why this archaism should have been preserved in India is a curious 

2 Then the First Bengal European Regiment. 

8 2nd and 3rd Bengal N.C. i/2nd, i/4-th, 6 cos. 8th, 1 & 2/i5th, 
2/22nd N.I. 

4 The official returns on the 23rd of November were (including 
all sick, etc.) : — 



Leaving a battalion and eight companies, together 1804. 
with his irregular horse, to guard the baggage, Fraser 
marched to the attack at three o'clock on the morning 
of the 13th. He had to fetch a wide compass south- Nov. 13. 
ward to turn the morass, but on arriving at the 
fortified hill which covered the enemy's right, he 
wheeled his column to northward in two lines ; the 
first consisting of the Seventy-sixth, and the second of 
the Hundred-and-First, each forming the centre to 
two battalions of native infantry. 1 In this order he 
advanced upon the village, where the enemy's sharp- 
shooters, firing from loopholes, caused his troops much 
annoyance. This petty stronghold was, however, 
speedily carried, when the Mahratta dispositions be- 
came clearer, and as usual were found to be skilful 
enough. Their first line with several guns barred the 
front of the inlet between the pond and the morass ; 
a large body of infantry and artillery being drawn up 
with particular cunning on their left, and another on the 
right so as to enfilade the British advance on both 
flanks. In rear of this was a second line, equally 
powerful in artillery ; and beyond this again was a 
succession of batteries stationed at such an angle to 
each other as to ensure a cross-fire. On their right, in 

Cavalry ....... 677 

76th 626 

ioist . . . . . . . 281 

6 batts. Sepoys . . . . . .4176 

Total .... 5760 

1 First Line. Monson's Brigade. 1/2 N.I. (on left); I /4th 
N.I. 76th (on right). 
Second Line. Browne's Brigade, ioist (on left), 2/ 1 5th N.I. 
1/1 5th N.I. (on right). 
Such is the order shewn in the large plan attached to vol. iv. of 
Wellesley Despatches ; but for reasons which will presently appear, 
I believe the order to have been, from left to right : — 

Monson's Brigade. i/4th N.I., 76th, i/2nd N.I. 
Browne's Brigade. 1/1 5th N.L, ioist, 2/1 5th N.T. 
It was the old rule that the white regiment should be in the centre 
between the two Sepoy battalions. 



1804. the open ground outside the tank, their cavalry 
Nov. 13. hovered about in large masses, ready to pursue if not 
ready to fight. Their position, in fact, resembled that 
of the French at Malplaquet, with this further access 
of strength, that at the end of the strait between pond 
and morass stood the fortress and guns of Deig. 

Fraser, however, never hesitated for a moment. 
Ordering his two regiments of native cavalry to check 
the Mahratta horse, he placed himself at the head of 
the Seventy-sixth, and with that regiment alone charged 
down the hill to his left upon the nearest line of guns, 
under a tremendous cross-fire of grape, chain, and round 
shot. The enemy gave way as soon as the British came 
near them, and falling back to their second line, con- 
tinued to ply them with a murderous cannonade. 
Fraser quietly reformed his troops, and was advancing 
against the second line when a cannon-shot carried 
away one of his legs, and compelled him to relinquish 
the command to Monson, the officer next senior to him. 
Monson, however, knew Fraser's plans, and, being a 
man of extraordinary bravery, was well fitted to execute 
them. The British second line having reached the 
village, two native battalions, 1 taken from both lines, 
faced half right and moved forward with their battalion- 
guns under command of Major Hammond, to check 
the outflanking corps of the enemy at the southern end 
of the morass ; while the Hundred -and -First, seeing 
the Seventy -sixth engaged far ahead of them, ran 
forward to support their comrades, followed by the two 
remaining battalions of Sepoys. Monson meanwhile 
had without hesitation led the Seventy-sixth forward 
against the second line of the enemy ; and from thence 
this intrepid band pressed on for two full miles, 
capturing battery after battery, till they fairly drove 
the mass of fugitives against the walls of the fortress, 
where hundreds perished in the swamp which adjoined 
the south-east angle and many were even drowned in 

1 These were the i/ind and the 2/1 5th N.I. ; the right-hand 
battalions, if my order of battle be accepted. 


the ditch. Had not our nominal allies in the fort 1 
opened fire upon the British, the pursuit would N 
probably have been still more destructive. 

Thus the front was swept clear, but there still 
remained the powerful body at the southern end of the 
morass which Major Hammond with his Sepoys was 
gallantly holding back, though his three little six- 
pounders were utterly overmatched by the far heavier 
and more numerous artillery of the Mahrattas. More- 
over, a party of horse belonging either to the enemy or 
to the Rajah of Bhurtpore's troops which were serving 
with our own army, had stolen round the cavalry that 
opposed them, and recapturing the first line of guns had 
turned them against the British. Captain Norford of 
the Seventy-sixth with twenty-eight men (who pre- 
sumably had been left to guard them) at once charged 
this hostile body and drove it off ; but he fell himself 
in the attack, and his little party remained in great peril. 
Monson, therefore, reformed his troops, and marching 
back to Hammond, first reinforced him with some of 
his battalion-guns, and then led his infantry round to 
the left flank of the party of Mahrattas that opposed 
him. These did not await the attack, but at once 
gave way and fled. Many ran back into the morass 
and were lost ; the rest were scattered in all directions. 
The cavalry then moved down to assist in protecting 
the wounded and the captured guns, and the escort of 
the baggage arriving at the same time, soon put an end 
to further resistance. The British encamped upon the 
field of battle. 

This was a fine and gallant action, which Lake 
declared to have surpassed anything hitherto done in 
India. He added, however, the significant remark : 
" I have reason to believe that the action of the 13 th 
inst. was a very near business. The personal courage 
of Monson alone saved it." In any case the native 
infantry appears to have done its duty gallantly, though 
the casualty list shows that, as usual, the British bore 
the brunt of a very severe fight. Six European 

io 4 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii ; 

1 804. officers, including General Fraser, were killed or died ::. 
Nov. 1 3. 0 f their hurts, and seventeen were wounded. Sixty- 
three European soldiers were killed, and one hundred 
and eighty-one wounded ; and among them forty-two 
of the killed and one hundred and twenty of the 
wounded belonged to the Seventy-sixth. Of the natives a 
of all ranks ninety-nine were killed, and two hundred c 
and seventy-four wounded ; and it is significant that in 
not one of these belonged to the two regiments of r 
Native Cavalry. The fact that the Mahratta horse 
was able to pass them by and recapture the guns, added 
to the further fact that the infantry of the baggage- L 
guard was brought up to support them, tends to show 
that they needed a squadron or two of British dragoons 
to hearten them ; and it was presumably owing to their 
failure that the action at one moment evidently bore 
an extremely ugly aspect. However, the bravery of 
Monson and his officers saved the day, and all was 
well. The loss of the Mahrattas was reckoned at two 
thousand killed, including those who perished in the 
swamp. The trophies of the day were eighty-seven 
guns, thirteen of them being those which Monson had 
lost on his retreat from Malwa, ani which he now 
most honourably recovered. 1 

It is an extraordinary fact that, though he had thus 
brilliantly redeemed his fame, Monson decided im- 
mediately after the action to fall back to Agra. Lake 
was in despair. Most of Holkar's defeated infantry 
had taken refuge in the fortress of Deig ; and there 
was every chance that Monson's retirement would 
allow them to escape and that, his movement being 
construed as a retreat, the whole country would rally 
to support the Rajah of Bhurtpore. Monson's 
ostensible motive was that he must go back to Muttra | 
for provisions. " There are sufficient supplies there for 1 

1 The authorities for the battle of Deig are meagre. I know j 
of none but the account in Thorn's Memoir of the War in India, eked 
out by Monson's report and Lake's comments in Wellesley Desp. 
iv. 233, 245, 251. 


the whole army for two months," wrote Lake, "and 1804. 
from thence he ought to have drawn them. He might 
have spared a battalion or two to have fetched them. . . 
It is somewhat extraordinary that a man brave as a 
lion should have no judgement or reflection. ... It 
really grieves me to see a man I esteem, after gaining 
credit in this way, throw it away in such a manner 
immediately." However, the only remedy for the 
mischief was that the Commander-in-chief should 
hasten to Deig himself, which he resolved forthwith to 
do ; and meanwhile he comforted himself with the 
news that Colonel Wallace of the Nineteenth Light 
Dragoons had, towards the end of September, captured 
the fortress of Chandore with little trouble or loss. 

On the 20th of November Lake's cavalry marched Nov. 20. 
from Furruckabad, leaving the infantry to follow, and 
pursued its way on the track of Holkar, first south- 
westward upon Mainpooree, thence north-westward Nov. 22. 
upon Etah, and thence westward by Assan to Muttra. Nov. 26. 
There on the 28th Lake crossed the Jumna and rejoined 
Monson, who had fortunately halted at Muttra when 
apprised of the Commander-in-chieFs approach. After 
a stay of two days, Lake advanced towards Deig on 
the 1st of December. The treachery, of the Rajah Dec. 1. 
of Bhurtpore had, since the battle of Deig, been so 
obvious, that hostilities against him were inevitable ; and 
these were to be opened by the siege of the fortress. 
On the 2nd Lake encamped within sight of the strong- Dec. 2. 
hold ; and, since the heavy artillery had not yet arrived 
from Agra, the next nine days were spent in recon- 
naissance and in skirmishes with the Mahratta horse 
under Holkar 's personal command. At length, on the 
10th, the siege-cannon came up under the escort of Dec. 10. 
Colonel Don ; and on the 1 1 th the entire force moved 
forward, formed in a huge hollow square, with the 
transport and followers, amounting to some sixty 
thousand human beings and over a hundred thousand 
animals, in the centre. Finally, on the 13th the army Dec. 13. 
encamped on the western side of the fortress. 

106 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xm 

1804. Being almost surrounded by marshes and lakes, 
Deig was during the greater part of the year nearly 
inaccessible to an enemy. The town, of considerable 
size, was defended by a strong mud wall with the 
usual round bastions, and by a deep ditch which 
surrounded it on every side except at the south-west 
angle, where the works were prolonged to a high rocky 
eminence called the Shah Bourj. Before this eminence 
stood what was practically a distinct fortress, consisting 
of a square enclosure with four commanding circular 
bastions at the four cardinal points, and a smaller 
bastion midway between the northern and western of 
them ; while the northern bastion and north side of the 
western were further covered by external entrenchments 
of the pointed form used by European engineers. A 
few hundred yards to south of these was an old detached 
mud fort, named Gopalghur, which was filled with 
matchlock-men and sharp-shooters. Within the town 
and about a mile to north-east of the Shah Bourj stood 
the citadel, of quadrate form, with circular bastions, and ( 
surrounded by a deep ditch faced with masonry. The ; 
ramparts were high and thick ; the approaches were , 
guarded by massive gateways and lowers ; and the 
whole was in excellent preservation and repair. 

On the very night of his arrival Lake broke ground \ 
in a grove over against the western front of Gopalghur ; 

Dec. 14. and by the next dawn a mortar-battery, besides another 
for two field-guns, was completed. On the evening of 
the 14th, volunteers from the British regiments of 
dragoons began the construction of a breaching battery B 
seven hundred and fifty yards to south-west of the' 
Shah Bourj. The workmen, despite much annoyance! 
from the sharp-shooters in Gopalghur, completed their B 

Dec. 17. task by the night of the 16th ; and on the morrow a 
fire was opened from ten heavy guns and four mortars. : 
The result was disappointing ; and the enemy mean- .. 
while brought guns out into the plain, where, utilising 
the inequalities of the ground with great skill, they f 
sheltered their artillery from all possibility of damage 


by the British batteries, while pouring upon them in 1804. 
their turn a destructive enfilading fire. Fresh cannon 
were therefore disposed by Lake to keep these in check, 
and on the 20th a new battery of heavy guns was Dec. 
erected farther to the north and closer to the Shah 
Bourj. These measures proved effective. Many of 
the enemy's guns were silenced ; a practicable breach 
was made in the Shah Bourj ; and the assault was fixed 
for the night of the 23rd December. 

The attacking parties were divided into three Dec. 
columns. The right column, consisting of four 
battalion -companies of the Hundred -and-First and 
five of Sepoys, was led by Captain Kelly, and was 
ordered to carry the enemy's batteries and trenches on 
the high ground to south of the Shah Bourj. The 
left column was in charge of Major RadclifFe who, 
with four more companies of the Hundred-and-First 
and five companies of Sepoys, was appointed to capture 
the hostile works to north of the Shah Bourj. The 
central column was commanded by Colonel Macrae. 
This last, being the storming party proper and entrusted 
with the assault of the breach, was composed of the 
flank companies of the Twenty-second, Seventy-sixth, 
and Hundred-and-First, supported by a battalion of 
Native Infantry. 

The whole, under the supreme direction of Macrae, 
moved off at about half-past eleven, the enemy firing 
an occasional gun and burning blue lights to show that 
they were on the alert. The two flanking parties 
came first into action, drove the enemy from the out- 
works and spiked the guns. The storming companies, 
however, were much hampered by broken and difficult 
ground, and were met by a cross-fire from a strong 
entrenchment which lay between them and the breach. 
Fortunately the cannon were mostly trained too high, 
for the artillery-men stuck most gallantly to their 
guns and were actually bayonetted where they stood. 
Thus this outer defence was carried, and the British 
rushing at the breach, after a desperate fight made 

io8 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1804. good their footing in spite of every kind of missile, 

Dec - 2 3- and ran down into the fort. Here again they were : 

met by guns at the corner of every street and by a I 

galling fire of musketry from the buildings ; while some 1 
of the enemy rallied under cover of the darkness and 

tried to recover their captured ordnance. But at half- < 

past twelve the moon rose, and, with its light to help ] 

them, Macrae's men were able to work more freely 1 

without fear of firing on one another. The columns to c 

right and left had been equally successful in carrying t 

the detached batteries and entrenchments ; and by two | 

o'clock the Shah Bourj, with the whole of its outworks, i 

was in Lake's possession. The flanking columns then 1 

rejoined Macrae and attacked the main walls of the t 

town, which were speedily carried. Preparations were f 

made for the battering and assault of the citadel, but t 

Dec. 24. the enemy evacuated it during the ensuing night, and t 

Dec. 25. on Christmas morning of 1804 the town and fort of 1 1 

Deig, with most of the artillery that still remained to c 

Holkar, besides a large quantity of grain and two lacs c 

of rupees in specie, were surrendered into the hands of c 
the British. 

The losses of the assailants were Stight considering 0 

the difficulties of the assault. Forty-three, including $ 

two British officers, were killed, and one hundred and p 

eighty-four, of whom thirteen were British officers, ii 

were wounded. Of the two companies of the Twenty- t 
second no fewer than four officers were wounded, 

among them being Captain Lindsay who, though twice k 

severely hurt by a pike-thrust and a sabre-cut before c 

he reached the breach, yet led his men on into the ii 

Shah Bourj. Lieutenant Forrest of the Pioneers d 

received over twenty wounds and was left for dead, $« 

but recovered with the loss of one arm. Considering c 

that the issue of all these desperate actions hung upon \ 
a handful of British officers, it is marvellous that any 
of them should have survived. 

Having repaired the defences of Deig so as to make j j 
Dec. 28. it again secure, Lake, on the 28th of December, 


marched south-eastward, picked up a convoy of stores, 1805. 
together with the Seventy-fifth regiment, which had 
formed its escort, and on the 2nd of January 1805 Jan. 2. 
encamped before the maiden fortress of Bhurtpore. 

There appears to be no detailed description of this 
stronghold before its capture by Lord Combermere in 
1826, when it had been much enlarged since 1804. 
But even when Lake came before it, it was a place 
of great extent, the circumference of the fort and town 
being upwards of eight miles. The whole of this vast 
perimeter was surrounded by a mud wall of great 
height and enormous thickness, with round bastions, 
mounting innumerable guns, at short intervals, and 
by a very wide and deep ditch. The fort, of quadrate 
figure, was situated at the eastern extremity of the 
town, upon elevated ground, with three sides within 
the town and the fourth overlooking the country. Its 
walls were higher than those of the town, and its 
ditch wider and deeper. The whole lay within a belt 
of jungle and swamp, the water of which could be 
drained off to fill the ditch. Indeed upon the arrival 
of Lake's army a large expanse of water on the 
north-west side suddenly disappeared ; and not for 
some time was it discovered that the whole of it had 
passed into the ditch, insomuch that in this case also 
it was said that " a seventy-four could have floated 

The complete investment of so great an enclosure 
was beyond the strength of Lake's army, but this 
consideration had never weighed with British generals 
in the siege of an Indian fortress ; and accordingly he 
concentrated the whole of his force opposite the 
selected point of attack at the south-west angle of the 
city. On the 4th of January a grove in advance of Jan. 4. 
his camp was first cleared of the enemy to facilitate 
the opening of the trenches ; and on the night of the 
5th a breaching battery of six eighteen-pounders was Jan. 5. 
erected, which opened fire on the 7th. By noon of Jan. 7. 
the same day a second battery of eight mortars was 


1805. completed ; and both plied the town with a heavy 
cannonade, which was answered as vigorously from the 
Jan. 9. walls. On the afternoon of the 9th a breach was 
reported to be practicable, and it was resolved that 
the storm should take place on the same evening, 
before the enemy should have time to pursue their 
usual practice of covering the breach with a stockade. 

The assault was to be delivered in three columns. 
Of these the left was composed of one hundred and 
fifty men of the Hundred-and-First and a battalion of 
Sepoys under Lieutenant-colonel Ryan, his orders being 
to attempt to enter a gateway on the left of our 
batteries. The right column, led by Major Hawkes, 
was made up of two companies of the Seventy-fifth 
and a battalion of Sepoys, and was designed to capture 
the advanced guns of the enemy outside the walls and 
to the right of our batteries. It was hoped that one 
or both of these parties might make their way into 
the town upon the backs of the fugitives ; but if they 
failed in this, they had orders to turn and support the 
central column. This last counted a strength of five 
hundred Europeans, consisting of the flank companies 
of the Twenty-second, Seventy-fifth, Seventy-sixth, and 
Hundred-and-First, besides a battalion of Sepoys, the 
whole being under command of Lieutenant - colonel 
Maitland of the Seventy-fifth. 

At seven o'clock these three bodies moved off to 
the trenches ; and upon the firing of the evening gun 
at eight o'clock they advanced to the assault. Ryan 
and Hawkes to right and left succeeded in their task 
of carrying the outer entrenchments and spiking the 
guns, but failed to enter the town with the fugitives. 
The central column advanced unperceived to within 
fifty yards of the breach, when a tremendous fire of 
musketry and cannon was opened upon them. Hurry- 
ing forward, the leaders of the column found themselves 
arrested by a deep trench about twenty yards wide and 
full of water, which branched off from the main ditch 
and enclosed a small island, on which stood a strong 


force of the enemy with two guns. These at once i 
opened a destructive fire ; and the storming party, J 
finding that the obstacle was too deep to be filled by 
the fascines and gabions which they carried, plunged 
waist-deep into the water and dashed straight at 
the enemy. The companies of the Twenty-second 
and part of the Seventy-fifth, who were at the head 
of the column, followed hard after the forlorn hope 
and quickly cleared the island ; but the companies in 
the rear broke off to the left in the darkness, leaving 
the leaders in isolation. The little band in front, 
however, pressed on over the ditch, but on reaching 
the breach found nothing but a perpendicular curtain 
descending sheer down to the water, with no footing 
but stones and logs that had fallen down from above 
under the fire of the guns. No more than three men 
abreast could ascend it ; but none the less, Sergeant 
John Shipp of the Twenty-second, Colonel Maitland, 
and Major Archibald Campbell of the Seventy-fifth 
made their way to the top, supported by such few of 
their men as had not fallen. Here they found their 
way barred by a stockade of stakes, stones, bushes, and 
pointed bamboo, through the crevices of which a forest 
of moving spears made continual thrusts at them ; 
while a shower of stones, stink-pots, and bundles of 
lighted straw fell on them from above. Staggering 
on the loose and treacherous rubbish up which he had 
climbed, Shipp drove one of his feet through it, and 
through the hole thus made caught sight of the 
interior of the fort swarming with men. His foot 
was instantly seized, nor could he withdraw it except 
at the sacrifice of his boot. Meanwhile the enemy 
in the bastion to the right of the stormers set fire to 
some dead underwood which they had hung from the 
wall for the purpose, and, being thus lighted to their 
work, trained a gun upon the little party in the 
breach. At the first discharge Maitland, Campbell, 
Shipp, and most of the few with them fell dead or 
wounded, and the remainder were ordered by 

ii2 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1 805. Lieutenant Mauser to sit down at the foot of the 
Jan. 9. breach while he went in search of the rest of the 
column. But the whole of the supports had gone 
astray, being stopped by the ditch. Some of them had 
halted by it, while others had turned either to right 
or left until they joined the columns of Hawkes and 
Ryan, the former of which, pursuant to its orders, was 
returning towards the breach after doing its work on the 
right. But meanwhile the little party at the breach's 
foot, finding itself unsupported and success hopeless, had 
retired ; and the order was given to retreat. The enemy 
jubilantly redoubled their fire ; and the troops suffered 
far more during this retrograde movement than during 
the advance. In all, five officers and sixty-four men 
were killed, twenty-three officers and three hundred and 
sixty-four men wounded. The flank companies of 
the Twenty-second, in particular, were terribly cut up ; 
while those of the Seventy-fifth lost not only their 
colonel, Maitland, killed, but seven other officers 
severely hurt. "Worst of all, some of the killed were 
men who had been left badly wounded near the breach, 
and had been murdered in cold blood by the enemy. 

The failure of the assault was doubtless due to in- 
sufficient means, and consequently to insufficient pre- 
paration and excessive haste. No adequate facilities had 
been devised for crossing the ditch ; and if the ditch 
had been easier, the so-called breach was really no breach 
at all. The troops were not discouraged ; but it was 
ominous that on the following day the enemy's working 
parties repaired the breach in broad daylight, Lake's 
four battering-guns being unable to fire until repaired. 
Other materials too were so scanty that during the three 
days following the attack there were not sufficient for 
more than the repair of the batteries already erected. 
However, the engineers now decided to batter the wall 
a little further to the right, or south ; and accordingly 
an additional breaching battery mounting four eighteen- 
pounders and two twenty-four pounders was erected 
immediately to the right of the old one, while other 


batteries of twelve-pounders were thrown up wide on 1 
both flanks so as to divert the fire of the fortress. On 
the 1 6th the newly mounted cannon opened upon the J 
wall in the appointed place, but with disappointing 
results. The mud wall crumbled down before the shot 
and disappeared into the ditch, which had been deepened 
by the enemy, leaving no foundation for the slope of 
a practicable breach, but merely a pile of light dust in 
which a man would sink waist-deep. 1 Moreover, as 
fast as a breach was made, it was forthwith stockaded 
by the Rajah's working parties, so that each morning 
saw the previous day's work undone. 

No effort, however, was made to bring the batteries 
within nearer range of the wall so as to ensure greater 
and more thorough destruction. The truth was that 
the number of the troops was insufficient for the work. 
On the 1 8th there arrived from Agra a reinforce- J 
ment under Major-general Smith, but this was not 
enough to supplement the losses arising from the un- 
successful assault, and from the daily and insidious 
attacks of sickness and fatigue. At this time also the 
freebooter, Meer Khan, threatened to appear upon the 
scene with a huge body of horse, having been hired by 
the Rajah with six lacs of rupees. Lake's cavalry had 
already been fully employed in keeping Holkar's 
plundering horsemen at a distance, and the arrival of 
fresh predatory bands promised to tax their vigilance 
to the utmost. This necessarily threw the task of 
protecting the camp more heavily upon the infantry, 
which, besides severe duty in the trenches, was required 
to take a share in all foraging parties and escorts for 
convoys. Hence the horse was harassed by constant 
troublesome service, the foot was overtasked, and the 
artillery and pioneers, being very few in number, were 
simply worked to death. Scarcity of forage was already 

1 Memoirs of John Shipp, chap. vii. I should attach little 
j importance to this observation of a private soldier were it not con- 
firmed in its main features by the journal of the siege in Creighton's 
Siege of Bhurtpore, p. 154. 


ii 4 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xm c 

1805. serious ; and the deficiency of stores was such that the r 
two twenty-four pounders were withdrawn from their tl 

Jan. 20. battery on the night of the 20th, the supply of their n 
shot being exhausted. tl 
However, on that same day the breach which had ti 
been made was declared to be practicable. During the * 
afternoon three brave troopers of the Native Cavalry 1 
contrived by an ingenious stratagem to ascertain the si 
width and depth of the ditch over against it ; and on 1 

Jan. 21. the following morning the troops were marched down d 
to the trenches on the right, in order to assault shortly 0: 
after noon. A bridge lightly constructed of bamboos, « 
and made buoyant by inflated skins, had been devised I 
to facilitate the passing of the ditch ; and picked men w 
had been trained to bring it forward and handle it. It I 
remained therefore only to choose the storming party, tl 
which was made up of the surviving men of the Twenty- ai 
second's flank-companies, one hundred and twenty of tc 
the Seventy-fifth, one hundred and sixty of the Seventy- 1 
sixth, and one hundred of the Hundred-and-first. As 
soon as these should have forced an entrance, the remain- 
ing men of the same four regiments, together with three Si 
battalions of Sepoys, were to support them. The Twenty- re 
second was to lead the way, and the foremost among 5 
them, with eleven volunteers, was Sergeant John Shipp, « 
who had held the same place in the assault of the 9th 
and, over and above many smaller wounds, had been 
struck in the shoulder by a grape-shot. Immediately 
behind him was Captain Lindsay of the same regiment 
who, owing to previous hurts, had only on that very 
day thrown aside his crutches, and still carried his left j 
arm in a sling. A second column under Colonel Simpson 
was also appointed to make an attempt to force the 
Anah gate, to the right or east of the storming party. 

The British batteries played upon the breach through- 
out the morning, and at three o'clock in the after- 
noon opened fire again to cover the advance of the 
stormers. A shell from a howitzer was the signal to 
move, and this bursting in the muzzle of the gun killed 

ch. iv HISTORY OF THE ARMY 1 1 5 

two British grenadiers. However, Shipp's little party led 1 805. 
the way, followed by the bridge, which was carried on j an . 2 1 . 
men's shoulders ; and the enemy at once poured on 
them a tremendous fire of musketry and artillery. At 
the edge of the ditch Shipp and Lindsay fell, severely 
wounded, the former in the head, the latter in the knee ; 
and the bridge on being launched was found to be too 
short by one-third, the enemy having dammed up the 
water and thereby immensely increased its width and 
depth. A hurried effort to lengthen the bridge by means 
of scaling ladders had no further effect than to overset it ; 
when it floated away uselessly down the ditch. There- 
upon Lieutenant Morris of the Hundred-and-first, 
with Lieutenant Brown and twelve men of the same 
regiment, swam the ditch and mounted the breach ; but 
they were too few to effect an entrance by themselves, 
and the rest of the column remained halted under a 
terrible fire. At length Colonel Macrae, who com- 
manded the storming party, seeing no hope of success, 
gave the word to retreat ; and then it seems that there 
was a general rush back to the shelter of the trenches. 
Simpson's column, however, now came up in Macrae's 
rear, on the way to the Anah gate; whereupon the 
storming party rallied and again advanced, though to 
no purpose. After a time Simpson returned, finding the 
entrance by the Anah gate impracticable ; and the whole 
presently retired in good order, though leaving many of 
the wounded behind. Morris, finding himself unsup- 
ported in the breach, where he had already been wounded, 
swam back over the ditch and, though struck by a bullet 
in the neck, was brought safely into camp. The enemy 
then swarmed out in triumph to murder the wounded 
and mutilate the dead ; and thus disastrously ended the 
second assault of Bhurtpore. 

The loss of the British amounted to twenty-eight 
officers and five hundred and seventy -three men, 
European and native, killed and wounded. The flank 
companies of the Twenty-second lost sixty- five of all 
ranks killed and wounded, and the small party of the 


1805. Seventy-fifth, one hundred ; so that there was no lack of 
Jan. 21. daring and devotion. Yet no advantage whatever was \ 
gained, and the troops were much shaken and dis- 
heartened. Lake issued a consolatory general order, 
and distributed a reward of money to every corps, with 
assurances that success was ultimately certain. It was t \ 
all that he could do, and his outward firmness no doubt 1 
made some impression upon the enemy ; but in truth ; 1 
he had throughout the day been overmatched. During t 
the assault the cavalry had been engaged with the con- I j 
federate force of Holkar and Meer Khan which, though ! 
successfully prevented from doing any mischief, refused a 
to be brought to close action, and at sunset followed a 
the retiring squadrons of the British almost up to the I d 
camp, being kept at bay only by a battery of horse- 0 
artillery in the rear-guard. tl 
Jan. 22. On the following day the enemy worked busily to v 
repair the breach, unmolested by any fire from the ji 
British cannon ; and the engineers sought for a more 1 ii 
promising site for their batteries to the eastward of n 
the existing trenches. But meanwhile a new difficulty, at 
which might have been foreseen, aros^ to distract the w 
British commander. A large convoy of twelve thousand B 
bullock-loads of grain was on its way to the camp at or 
Muttra by way of Deig, and on the 22 nd a regiment re 
of native cavalry and a battalion of Sepoys under ar 
Captain Welsh were sent to bring it in. The escort ■ 1 
duly joined the convoy, and encamping with it at a'M 
distance of twelve miles from Bhurtpore, marched again n 
Jan. 23. with it early on the morning of the 23rd. All went well 

until they reached Combir, half-way between Deig and A 
Bhurtpore, where the convoy was attacked by the entire k 
force of Meer Khan, numbering some eight thousand ca: 
horse and foot with four guns. The four hundred its 
troopers being too few to protect such a multitude lr 
of bullocks, Welsh took post in the village with his escort b: 
and such of the animals as he could gather round him. Co. 
Here, though beset on all sides, he held his own Lio 
gallantly, beating off attack after attack until, two of t 


his guns being disabled, the enemy by a desperate effort 1805. 
succeeded in capturing a part of his position. The firing, Jan. 23. 
however, had been heard at Bhurtpore, and at half- 
past eight the Twenty-seventh Light Dragoons and a 
regiment of native cavalry under Colonel Need rode 
(hastily out of camp to the rescue. The dust raised by 
[the column was soon perceived by Welsh's Sepoys who, 
Smaking sure that Lake himself was on his way to 
them, raised loud cheers, and dashing at the enemy's 
|guns, captured the whole of them at the bayonet's point. 
|Need came up in time to scatter the enemy's cavalry in 
all directions, and catching the fugitives of the infantry 
las they fled from their cannon, cut them down without 
■mercy. Six hundred of Meer Khan's men were killed 
ion the spot, and the chief himself only escaped by 
(throwing off his clothes and arms, and running away 
(with the press of his followers. Altogether the affair 
(Was highly creditable to the troops engaged, whose loss 
fin killed and wounded did not amount to fifty of all 
|-anks ; and inasmuch as the enemy left forty standards 
and four guns in the hands of the British, the story 
|$vas capable of being expanded into a lively despatch. 
(But the fact remains that of twelve thousand bullocks 
jpnly eighteen hundred came into the British camp, the 
[remainder with their loads going to feed Holkar's 
[army. How it came about that only fourteen hundred 
[pen were sent to escort twelve thousand bullocks, when 
■Meer Khan was known to be in the neighbourhood 
[with a large force, is a matter that was left unexplained. 

However, this unpleasant lesson was not neglected. 
^ second and much larger convoy of fifty thousand 
Dullocks laden with grain, and about eight hundred 
:art-loads of stores, ammunition, and treasure was on 
ts way from Agra ; and it was of vital importance to 
>ring it in safely, for there was not seven days' grain 
eft in the camp. Accordingly on the 24th Lake sent Jan. 24. 
Zolonel Don to that place with the Twenty-ninth 
Jght Dragoons, two corps of native cavalry, and three 
>attalions of Sepoys. Arriving there on the 26th, Don 


1805. marched with the convoy on the 28th, and on the 29th, 
Jan. 29. at a distance of about sixteen miles from Bhurtpore, 
fell in with the united forces of the Rajah of Bhurtpore, 
Holkar, Meer Khan, and Bappoo Scindia, all of them 
intent on securing so rich a prize. Lake instantly- 
marched with the rest of the cavalry and two battalions 
of Sepoys to reinforce him ; and such was the terror of 
his name, that no attack was attempted in his presence. 
His whole camp was surrounded by the enemy that 
Jan. 30. night ; but on the morrow he marched in a huge 
hollow square, and brought in the convoy safely with- 
out the loss of a man or bullock ; while his cavalry and 
horse-artillery succeeded in inflicting some damage upon 
the hordes of the enemy. " Nothing," said a critical ob- 
server, who was not always friendly to Lake, " could have 
been better planned or more steadily and coolly executed 
than the protection of the convoy upon this occasion. " 1 
A little respite was thus gained ; and the preparations 
for the renewal of the siege, which had gone forward 
somewhat languidly owing to lack of supplies and stores, 
Feb. 5. received new life. On the 5th of February a new 
parallel was opened towards the Neejjidar gate, on the 
southern front of the fortress ; and on the following 
day the whole camp was shifted to a new position in 
rear of it. Now, however, Meer Khan essayed a fresh 
kind of diversion. His recent failure to capture the 
great convoy had caused complaint among the chiefs 
subordinate to him ; and the quarrels between them 
became so hot that he determined to separate from 
his friends, and try his fortune in his native country ol 
Feb. 7. Rohilcund. Accordingly on the 7th of February he 
crossed the Jumna with the whole of his own body 
of horse and as many banditti as would join him 
concluding that Lake could detach no force in pursuil 
of him without raising the siege of Bhurtpore. 

No sooner, however, was Lake informed of hi$ 
departure than he despatched Major-general Smith witt 

1 Journal of Lord Lake's Siege of Bhurtpore (apparently by ar 
officer of Engineers), appended to Creighton's Siege of Bhurtpore. 


the Eighth, Twenty-seventh, and Twenty-ninth Light 1805. 
Dragoons, and three regiments of native cavalry to hunt 
him down. This detachment marched on the 8th, Feb. 8. 
crossed the Jumna by the bridge of boats at Muttra 
on the 9th, and at once took up the chase. Reaching 
Aligarh on the 1 ith, Smith was there reinforced by two Feb. 11. 
regular battalions of Sepoys, some irregular infantry, 
and Skinner's Horse. Proceeding north-westward, the 
column, after meting out some punishment to predatory 
chieftains on its way, dropped the infantry and part of 
Skinner's Horse at Arropshehar, and on the 14th en- Feb. 14. 
camped on the bank of the Ganges. There intelligence 
was received that Meer Khan had failed in an attempt 
to traverse the river and had followed it upwards in 
the hope of finding a suitable crossing-place. Smith at 
once pursued him to a point due east of Meerut, where, 
finding that his quarry had succeeded in passing the 
stream, he at once led his troops into the water, a mile 
broad at that place, and reached the eastern bank in 
safety with the loss of a few followers and baggage- 

Thence the chase lay due east by Moradabad to 
Rampoor, which was reached on the 20th, and from Feb. 20. 
thence south-eastward to Sheergur, where Smith halted, 
having driven Meer Khan to the foot of the bleak hills 
to northward where he could work little mischief, while 
he himself held a good central position for the defence 
of Pillibeer, Rampoor, and Bareilly. Moving between 
these places for some days, Smith on the 27th turned Feb. 27. 
northward from Moradabad, and on the 2nd of March Mar. 2. 
received the welcome intelligence that Meer Khan with 
the whole of his force was but nine miles distant at 
Afzulghur. Marching at once to that spot, he found 
the chief's forces drawn up in order of battle behind 
a ravine ; and at once attacking, cut the whole of his 
infantry to pieces, killed three of Meer Khan's principal 
officers, and dispersed his cavalry with heavy loss in all 
directions. Smith's casualties in the action did not 
exceed forty killed and wounded. 

120 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1805. Deserted by many of his followers, Meer Khan fled 
by a circuitous route to Moradabad ; and after another 
week of defeat in sundry attacks, being hustled in 
every direction by columns detached from the British 
garrisons in the country, he recrossed the Ganges on 

Mar. 11. the nth, having lost alike his baggage, his following, 
and his reputation. Smith also crossed the Ganges, 

Mar. 23. and on the 23rd, after a month of excessive exertion 
and fatigue during a chase of seven hundred miles, 
rejoined the army before Bhurtpore. 

There, unfortunately, matters had not prospered since 
the departure of the cavalry. In itself the detachment 
of so many troops was an embarrassment to Lake, 
which was not lessened by his losses in the two un- 
successful assaults. It was imperative that he should 
obtain reinforcements from some quarter ; and finally it 1 
had been decided to call up from Malwa a part of the i 
Bombay contingent commanded by Murray. That i 
officer, indeed, had played a singularly inconspicuous 1 
part in the operations. As far back as September 1804, ( 
Arthur Wellesley had recommended that he should 2 
be superseded by Major-general Jones. This was not I 
immediately done ; and Murray accordingly remained 1 
inactive at Ujjein, until in November Wellesley advised J 
that he should be recalled towards Guzerat, where his r 
force might be re-equipped with facility and would I 
ensure the safety of that district. Lake, however, at { 
this same time bade him move northward from Ujjein, I 
apparently with the view of using his column to head a 
back Holkar if he should again turn towards the south, i 
The defeat of Holkar at Deig and Furruckabad made c 
these orders useless ; but Murray, to Arthur Wellesley's c 
consternation, marched northward to Kota, leaving 1 
Holkar's forts of Partabghur and Hinglaisghur untaken t( 
in his rear, and sacrificing his communications with I 
Guzerat. In December 1804, explicit directions came 1 
from Lake that he should join him on the Jumna, which fi 
seemed to justify his movements ; though Wellesley did 
not conceal his apprehensions lest Murray should share [ 



the fate of Monson in Malwa. However, in due time 1805. 
General Jones reached the army and took command ; 
when it was discovered that Lake's orders for the force 
to move northward, far from being due to carelessness 
and imprudence on the part of the Commander-in- 
chief, had actually been suggested by Murray himself. 
Yet this was the same officer who in the previous year 
had been so nervous about his supplies and communica- 
tions that he would hardly move. The truth seems 
to be that when Murray learned that he was to be 
superseded he was prepared to march anywhere at any 
risk, so long as he could prevent his successor from 
joining the army. 1 

However, on the nth of February Jones arrived Feb. n. 
before Bhurtpore with eight companies of the Sixty- 
fifth, the Eighty-sixth, five battalions of Bombay Sepoys, 
a troop of Bombay cavalry, and a few irregular horse, 
in all about seven hundred Europeans and twenty-four 
hundred natives. By that time a new breaching battery 
of four eighteen-pounders had just been completed, and 
a second battery to left of it had been begun, both of 
them within four hundred yards of the wall. A new 
breach was made by these guns ; but the enemy built 
a mud wall in rear of it and kept stockading it and 
restockading it as fast as the palisades were shot away. 
However, something more of science was shown in the 
general prosecution of the siege. Trenches of approach 
were carried forward so as to shelter a storming party 
almost to the edge of the ditch ; a mine was begun at 
the end of them with the idea of blowing up the 
counterscarp ; powerful mortar-batteries were erected 
on each flank of the breaching battery ; and outlying 
works of sandbags were thrown up for lighter ordnance 
to keep down the fire of the defence. On the other 
hand, the enemy erected batteries and threw up trenches 
outside the walls of the fortress so as to enfilade the 
British guns. Nor did the besieged lack enterprise in 

1 Wellington Desp. iii. 468, 547, 556, 570, 592, 599, 597, 631, 



1805. other respects, for on the morning of the 19th they 
Feb. 19. attacked an unfinished work which was erecting within 
seventy yards of one of their towers, drove out the 
Sepoys within it, emptied the sandbags and carried 
them off. Lake, however, was satisfied with what had 
been done by his engineers, and determined to storm 
the breach as soon as the batteries should have swept 
away the stockade. 

Three columns in all were formed. The left was 
made up of most of the European soldiers of Lake's 
own army, supported by three battalions of Sepoys, and 
was placed under command of Colonel Don for the 
assault of the breach. The centre column was com- 
mitted to Captain Grant of the Bombay forces who, 
with two hundred of the Eighty-sixth and a battalion 
of Bengal Sepoys, was to carry the enemy's guns and 
trenches outside the town. The right column, com- 
posed of three hundred of the Sixty-fifth and two 
battalions of Bombay Sepoys under Colonel Taylor, 
was to attack the Beem Narain gate at the south-eastern 
angle of the fort, which was reported to be accessible 
to guns, and therefore capable of being broken in. 

During the night of the 19th some parties of the 
enemy made a sally and crept into the nearest approach 
unperceived, the British troops being for some reason 
always withdrawn before the relief arrived to take their 
place. Here they remained for some time unmolested, 
demolishing the preparations that had been made for a 
Feb. 20. mining chamber, and carrying off the tools. At day- 
break the British storming party arrived, whereupon 
the enemy at once rushed out with pikes and swords 
along the top of the trench, thrusting and slashing at 
the men below, and occasionally jumping down and 
closing with them. Every man of these aggressors was 
intoxicated, and their onslaught was most furious. 
The trench being very deep and narrow, without 
banquette-steps to enable the men to ascend it or to 
fire over it, the British were caught at a disadvantage 
and were thrice driven back, until the remnant of the 


flank companies of the Twenty-second came up and 1805 
swept the savage assailants out. The British guns were Feb. 
then turned upon them, as well as the guns of the 
fortress, which throughout had played indiscriminately 
upon all parties ; and few of this desperate band escaped 
alive. But the loss of the British also had been severe ; 
the wounded and dying were left where they lay, 
exposed to the enemy's fire ; and their miserable 
groans and writhings threw gloom and discouragement 
over the storming party. 

At three o'clock the three native battalions of Don's 
column marched into the trenches ; and a little later 
Grant's detachment sprang forward and dashed at the 
entrenchments and batteries without the walls on the 
right of the British guns. The enemy was at once 
driven out; eleven guns mounted in the batteries were 
captured ; and Grant's men following close upon the 
fugitives, pursued them to the walls and on to the Anah 
gate, which was barely closed in time to shut out the 
foremost of the British. Having no guns, Grant was 
powerless to blow in the gate ; and he therefore estab- 
lished himself under the bank of a dry pond immedi- 
ately outside it, having only narrowly missed forcing 
his way into the fortress. 

Grant's attack was the signal for the storming party 
to move forward, and accordingly Don gave the word 
to assault. The orders were that the Europeans at the 
head of the column should advance from the left of 
the breaching battery, and that the Sepoys should follow 
them to the breach. Fifty men with fascines were to 
take the lead, throw their fascines into the ditch, and 
then wheeling outwards spread themselves along the 
glacis to keep up a fire upon the breach while the 
forlorn hope rushed on. But the men, though they 
were the remnant of the Seventy-fifth, Seventy-sixth, 
and Hundred-and-first regiments, which had covered 
themselves with glory during the past weeks, refused to 
move out. They were depressed by past failures before 
Bhurtpore ; they were dismayed by the ghastly agony 

i2 4 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xm 

1805. of the wounded men all round them; they were 
Feb. 20. discouraged by the success of the hostile sally in the 
morning. They had only too readily caught up an idea 
that the enemy had established a mine in the unfinished 
gallery of their own engineers ; they found their task 
made doubly difficult and perilous by the faulty con- 
struction of the parallels and the enfilading fire which 
consequently swept the approaches ; and in fact they 
had come to the conclusion that the operations before 
the fortress had been and still were mismanaged, and 
had lost confidence in their leaders. In vain their 
officers exhorted them by words, gestures, and example : 
they would not advance ; and, until they moved, the 
native troops in their rear could not pass to the front. 
Some of the flankers of the Twenty -second alone 
responded to the appeals of their officers, but, finding 
themselves unsupported by their comrades, presently 

In desperation Don at last led two battalions of 
native infantry to the right of the breaching battery, 
and from thence to the ditch. The Sepoys followed 
him most gallantly ; but the ditch opposite to the 
breach was found impassable, and the column swerved 
to its right to the nearest point which had suffered 
damage from the besieging cannon, namely a bastion 
known to the British as the Tower bastion. Here the 
ditch was found to have little water in it ; and the men 
began to climb up the bastion by clinging to the shrubs 
that grew on its face. On reaching the slope of the 
tower most of the party stopped, though a few of the 
bravest clambered on and even planted their colours 
close to the summit ; but there was no chance for the 
ascent of a number sufficient to maintain a footing 
united at the top. Those that would not face the peril 
of the final climb, hung in crowds round the foot of 
the tower ; but no order nor entreaty could induce them 
to move round it or to push on to the breach in 
the curtain. There they remained huddled together, 
while the enemy from above showered on them logs 


of wood, fire-pots, and missiles of every description. 1805 
Meanwhile the European regiments, observing the Feb. 
attack on the tower, imagined that the place was taken ; 
and a small party of them left the trenches and pushed on 
after the Sepoys. Two of these soldiers actually reached 
the summit of the tower, where one was blown to 
pieces by a gun, but the rest joined the Sepoys at its 
foot, where they endured the enemy's fire for an 
hour and a half. At length they were ordered to 
retire, when the whole suddenly took to their heels and 
rushed back in panic to their trenches. Taylor's 
column, meanwhile, having lost its scaling-ladders and 
had one of its guns dismounted, had found the forcing 
of the Beem Narain gate absolutely impracticable, and 
had already retired. Thus the third assault, like its 
fellows, issued in a disastrous repulse. 

Twenty-eight British officers were killed or wounded 
in this affair ; and the total loss amounted to forty-nine 
Europeans and one hundred and thirteen natives killed, 
seventy-six Europeans and five hundred and fifty-six 
natives wounded, making in all little short of nine 
hundred casualties. Nevertheless on the same night 
it was reported to Lake that if the tower which had 
been assaulted by the storming party were battered 
for half a day it might easily be stormed, and accord- 
ingly the whole of the guns in the new breaching 
battery were turned upon it. In the morning Lake Feb. 
came on parade and, addressing the European regiments 
rather in sorrow than anger, expressed his regret that 
they had not followed their officers and so had failed 
of success, but added that he would give them an 
opportunity of retrieving their reputation. He then 
called for volunteers ; and the whole stepped forward as 
one man. Two hundred were selected, to each of whom 
a reward of one hundred, rupees was promised if the 
fortress were taken. Lieutenant Templeton offered to 
lead the storming party, and Sergeant John Shipp, 
though still disabled by wounds, insisted for the third 
time on leading the forlorn hope. Lake therefore 



1805. decided to assault once more in the afternoon, his 
Feb. 21. supplies and stores having fallen so low that unless he 
captured the city he had no alternative but to raise the 

The guns therefore played upon the tower with such 
ammunition as was left, and beat so large a gap about 
its base as to raise hopes that the upper portion would 
fall by its own weight. This expectation was, however, 
disappointed ; and Lake was duly informed that the 
higher part of the tower was still steep. It was 
thought, even so, that it might by some means be 
surmounted ; and, since it was reported that the breach 
was still unrepaired, Lake decided to make the attempt. 
The shattered remains of the Seventy-sixth and of the 
flank companies of the Twenty-second, the Sixty-fifth, 
Eighty-sixth, the flank companies of the Hundred-and- 
first, two battalions of Bengal Sepoys, and one of 
Bombay Native Infantry formed the storming party, the 
whole being under the command of Monson. Before 
four o'clock the signal was given, and the detachment, 
cheering loudly as they passed the General, marched 
forward to the assault. m 

The advance was made with the greatest boldness and 2 
regularity, and the men showed all their old bravery in ? 
attempting to scale the tower. The gap in its base gave t 
shelter to a few, but the breach was still too steep to 
be climbed. Determined to carry the fortress if it 
were humanly possible, some of the stormers drove their 
bayonets into the rampart, one above another, to make t 
a ladder ; while others tried to scale the ascent by the 0 
holes made by the British guns ; but only two men : 
abreast could advance in that way, and numbers so r 
small were easily overpowered. The enemy heaped i 
missiles upon them, logs of wood, pots of gunpowder, i 
flaming packs of cotton dipped in oil, heavy shot, all k 
that came to hand ; while the guns of the adjoining n 
bastion poured in a sweeping and most destructive fire, i 
For two hours the men wrestled with the impossible, 
striving to ascend the curtain at any point which i 


promised the least semblance of success. Templeton 1805. 
was killed just as he had planted the colours near the Feb. 21 
summit. Major Menzies, Lake's aide-de-camp, begged 
leave to join in the assault, and was slain at the head 
of the old breach. All was in vain. Monson at length 
gave the order to retire, and the survivors rushed back 
under a furious fire to their batteries. Four hundred 
and seventy-nine Europeans, thirty-four of them officers, 
and five hundred and eight natives had fallen ; making 
in all nine hundred and eighty -seven killed and 
wounded. The various attacks had cost over three 
thousand men, and the fortress was as defiant as ever. 

There was no doubt now as to what must be done. 
On the night between the 22nd and 23rd the troops Feb. 23 
were withdrawn from the trenches, and the ordnance 
from the batteries. The guns were unfit for service, 
the vents being so much worn that most of them would 
hold four fingers, and had only been stopped, in the 
later days of the siege, by bags of sand. This, in fact, 
was one cause of Lake's failure ; six iron guns of no 
great calibre and eight brass mortars comprehended 
the whole of his siege-train, which was far too small 
and too weak for his purpose. His force of men also 
was inadequate, for he began the siege with little more 
than six thousand effective infantry and two thousand 
cavalry, the latter of which was constantly absent in 
chase of predatory horse of one description or another. 
Lord Combermere, when he sat down before Bhurtpore 
in 1826, had with him eighteen battalions, eight regi- 
ments of cavalry, six troops of horse artillery, one 
hundred and twelve siege-pieces, and fifty light field- 
guns. The historian of Combermere's siege, with 
these figures before him, most generously strives to 
vindicate Lake against all hostile criticism ; but it 
cannot be gainsaid that the main cause of his failure 
was his own impatience. " They must have blundered 
that siege terribly," wrote Arthur Wellesley from St. 
Helena, when he heard the news ; <c for it is certain that 
with adequate means every place can be taken ; and, 



1805. Lord Lake having been so long before the place, 
adequate means must have been provided or in his 
power. The fault lies therefore in the inapplication 
of them or, most probably, in the omission to employ- 
all those which were necessary to accomplish the object 
in view, either through the ignorance of the engineers, 
or the impetuosity of Lord Lake's temper, which 
would brook no delay." Even the Viceroy, greatly 
as he esteemed and admired Lake, begged him, upon 
the report of the last assault, not to accelerate operations 
at Bhurtpore, if he resumed the siege, but to await the 
arrival of a sufficient battering-train rather than risk 
another failure. Lord Wellesley 's confidence must have 
been greatly impaired before he would write in such 
terms to his beloved General. 1 

Lake, however, was still resolute and unshaken. 

Feb. 24. On the 24th he drew off his army six miles to north- 
eastward of the fortress and encamped so as to cover 
the roads to his magazines at Agra, Muttra, and Deig ; 
the enemy's horse making the movement both difficult 
and hazardous owing to the absence of the cavalry 
under General Smith, which had not y>et returned from 
the chase of Meer Khan. The troops were then 
employed in making fascines and in bringing in large 
convoys of supplies and stores, including the battering 
train which ought to have been summoned earlier. The 

Mar. 10. Rajah began to lose heart, and on the 10th of March, 
two days after Lake had received the news that he had 
been raised to the peerage, his emissaries were admitted 
to headquarters to negotiate for peace. Holkar, 
meanwhile, with what remained of his force, lay about 
eight miles westward from Bhurtpore in ease and 
comfort, since Lake had no cavalry with him. On the 

Mar. 23. 23rd, however, Smith returned with his regiments to 

Mar. 29. camp ; and at one o'clock on the morning of the 29th 
Lake led them out to surprise Holkar's camp, he 
himself intending to attack its right, while another 

1 Wellington Suppl. Desp. v. 511 ; Wellesley Desp. iv. 301 ; 
Creighton's Siege of Bhurtpore, xx. seq. 


column moved round its left. But the enemy were 1805. 
warned of the movement and were so far prepared for 
flight when he came upon them that, after a long 
pursuit, he succeeded only in making an end of about 
two hundred men and taking a few animals. Holkar, 
therefore, took up a fresh camp some way to the south- 
west of Bhurtpore, where he thought himself more 
secure; but at daybreak of the 2nd of April Lake April 2 
came upon him with his cavalry and horse-artillery, 
and pursuing him for eight miles, made large captures, 
besides working great havoc among the men. Numbers 
of Holkar's followers deserted him ; and he was forced 
to cross the Chumbul with a mere remnant of eight 
thousand horse, half as many foot, and twenty or 
thirty guns. A week earlier a detachment of his 
infantry with three guns had been routed and dispersed Mar. 26. 
near Ahmednuggur by a small column of Sepoys and „ 
irregulars, which weakened him still further. The 
Mahratta chief was now little more than a wanderer 
and an outcast, having lost all his strong places, nearly 
all his artillery, and the great bulk of his once-powerful 

These successes were not without effect on the Rajah 
of Bhurtpore ; and Lake presently accelerated the nego- April 8. 
tiations with him by marching back to his old encamp- 
ment at the south-east angle of the city. On the 10th 
of April accordingly the Rajah signed the preliminaries April 10. 
of peace ; and a few days later he bound himself by 
I treaty to hold no correspondence with the enemies of 
Great Britain, to leave Deig in the hands of the British 
t Government until it should be assured of his fidelity, 
\ and to pay an indemnity of two hundred thousand 
e pounds. Thereupon, on the 21st, the army broke up April 21. 
0 from before Bhurtpore and moved south-eastward 
jj upon the Chumbul. 

e There was indeed more than enough to require its 
>r presence there. Ever since the first reverses of the 
British Scindia had waxed warlike or unwarlike 
1 ; according to the prospect of their failure or success in 


130 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xm 

1805. the field ; and as disaster followed disaster at Bhurtpore, 
he became more and more forgetful of former lessons. 
His ostensible ground of complaint against the Viceroy 
was that the fort of Gwalior and the territory of Gohud 
had, under the recent treaty, been wrongfully withheld 
from him. Moreover, it seems that Lake, Arthur 
Wellesley, and in fact every one except the Viceroy, 
thought that he had a just claim to Gwalior. 1 But 
other of his grievances were simply impudent ; and in 
the autumn of 1 804 he had gone so far as to march 
towards Bundelcund, attacking the allies of the British 
in violation of the treaty, and openly communicating 
with Meer Khan and with other followers of Holkar. 
After repeated protests, the British resident at his 

Jan. 23. court quitted his camp on the 23rd of January 1805, 
but was at once brought back by force and virtually 
detained as a prisoner, with every circumstance of 
humiliation. Lord Wellesley, seeing that Lake's 
strength was already overtaxed, contented himself with 

April 23. mild remonstrances ; and Scindia, on the 23rd of April, 
intimated to the resident his intention of marching to 
Bhurtpore to mediate between the Rajah and the 
British. The consequences of this thovement would 
undoubtedly have been serious ; but they were averted 
by Lake's treaty with the Rajah, which came both to 
Scindia and to Holkar as a staggering surprise. None 
the less, the two last remained in open communication, 
and at last both Holkar and Meer Khan joined their 
forces to Scindia's, the whole virtually forming one 
united camp. 

April 30. Lake crossed the Chumbul near Dholpore on the 
30th of April ; and Scindia, thinking better of his big 
words, withdrew up the river to Kotah, though he still 
refused to liberate the British resident, even when Lake 
threatened a renewal of hostilities. The Viceroy, 
however, was determined not to precipitate matters ; and 
the desertion of a part of Scindia's army to the British 
gave that chief warning that he must be careful. Lake 
1 Wellington, Suppl. Desp. iv. 386. 


detached a force to watch him, and meanwhile employed 1805. 
himself in negotiating a treaty with the ruler of Gohud, 
whereby the latter pledged himself, by what was called 
1 a subsidiary treaty, to take three battalions of the East 
India Company's Sepoys into his pay. This done, the 
army broke up in the third week of May ; the May. 
Bundelcund detachment marching to Gwalior and the 
Bombay force to Tonk. Lake with his head- 
quarters at Muttra threw his army into cantonments 
there, at Agra, at Secundra, and at Futtehpore ; the 
whole being kept ready to march and to concentrate 
at a moment's warning. 

On the 25th of July Lord Wellesley, weary withj u ly2 5. 
waiting, sent Scindia an ultimatum, bidding him deliver 
up the British resident or take the consequences ; but 
his term of office had come to an end before any answer 
could be received. He had sent home his resignation at 
the end of 1803, and had delayed only until the negotia- 
tions with the Mahratta chiefs, which subsequently gave 
place to war, should have been terminated. Meanwhile 
his ambitious and costly policy had commended itself 
neither to the East India Company nor to the British 
Cabinet ; and war and conquest in India, ever since the 
trial of Warren Hastings, could be always held up as 
wicked and unnecessary. Hence when his successor, 
Lord Cornwallis, arrived at Calcutta on the 30th of July 30. 
July, he brought with him both the hopes and the 
instructions of the Government for a new era of 
economy and peace. 

The faith reposed by British ministers in Cornwallis 
is somewhat remarkable, for he was not a man of great 
ability, and his career had by no means been of the 
most successful. In America he had proved himself 
decidedly a failure. In India he had been within a 
hair's-breadth of actual disaster before Seringapatam ; 
and though he had redeemed his first mishaps in the 
field by subsequent victory, his neglect or misgovern- 
ment had left to his successor very formidable difficulties. 
As chief military adviser to Pitt's Cabinet and as Master- 

132 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1805. general of the Ordnance, his career, whether by his fault 
or not, was the reverse of creditable to him ; and 
though he had done well in Ireland in 1798, he had cut 
a deplorable figure as a diplomatist at Amiens. He 
was beyond doubt a man of sterling integrity, with a 
high sense of duty as a public servant ; and these are 
gifts which are not so common as to be valued lightly. 
But his chief merit in the eyes of the Government seems 
to have been what was termed his moderation, of which 
it can only be said that it bore a dangerous resemblance 
to mediocrity. But in any case his health was so much 
broken that, though he most nobly and unselfishly 
undertook the heavy charge, it was simple folly to 
despatch him to India. 

Arriving by no means the better for his long and 
tedious voyage, Cornwallis was dismayed to hear that 
hostilities with Holkar were not yet ended, and that 
even with Scindia they were likely to be renewed. 
Within twenty-four hours he decided that no further 
military success could be of any profit, but that the 
contest must be terminated forthwith by negotiation ; and 
he at once set out on a journey to the Upper Provinces. 
Examination of the Company's finances, which were 
certainly in a deplorable condition, confirmed him in his 
opinion ; and he made up his mind at once to restore 
to Scindia both Gwalior and Gohud, to withdraw 
Wellesley's demand for the liberation of the resident, 
to reinstate Holkar in the whole of his dominions, 
and to renounce the connexions made by Lake with 
the native princes on the Jumna. By happy chance 
Lake was able, before Cornwallis's instructions reached 
him, to insist that Scindia should set free the resident ; 
and indeed, when apprised of their purport, he took 
upon himself to keep back the Viceroy's letter to 
Scindia and wrote a strong remonstrance against such 
proceedings. But Cornwallis was past all work before 
Lake's letter reached him. For a month he lingered in 
a state of weakness which allowed him to transact little 
Oct. 5. business, and on the 5th of October he died at Ghazipore. 


Meanwhile Holkar who, with such troops as remained 1805. 
to him, had again betaken himself to Ajmeer, marched 
northward at the beginning of September, announcing Sept. 
that he expected assistance from the Sikhs and even 
from the Ameer of Cabul. Lake, being determined 
to allow no mischief of this kind, thereupon ordered the 
troops at Agra and Secundra to move to Muttra on the 
10th of October, sent a detachment to Saharanpoor for 
the protection of the Doab, and himself marched on 
the 28th of October with two brigades of cavalry, one Oct. 28. 
of infantry and sufficient artillery, 1 to pursue Holkar in 
person. On the 7th of November he arrived at Delhi, Nov. 7. 
whence moving northward by easy marches he reached 
Paniput on the 17 th, and entered Sikh territory by way 
of Kurnah. On the 24th he was at Pattiala, where Nov. 24. 
the Rajah reported that Holkar had endeavoured to 
attract the Sikhs in those parts to his standard, but 
without effect. On the 29th Lake was reinforced by Nov. 29. 
three battalions of Sepoys and two bodies of irregular 
horse ; and still moving north-westward, he reached 
Ludhiana on the 2nd of December. Here he crossed Dec 2. 
the Sutlej, being received everywhere in friendly fashion, 
and marched on in the hope of coming up with Holkar, 
who had failed to cross the Beyah still further to north- 
west. He was disappointed, however, for his advanced 
guard arrived at the Beyah just in time to see Holkar 's 
rear-guard cross it before their eyes ; and by the time 
Lake's main body reached the river, Holkar was at 
Amritsar. Lake continued his advance to Jallundar ; Dec. 9. 
where, under the terror of his name, the chiefs of the 
Sikhs declined to give aid to Holkar, sending an 
emissary to welcome the British and to offer their 
mediation. On the 20th of December Holkar's 
messengers arrived ; and on the 24th a treaty dictated Dec 24. 
by Lake brought the long contest to a close. 

1 1st Brigade — H.M. 24th (late 27th), 25th (late 29th) L.D., two 
regiments of native cavalry. 
2nd Brigade — H.M. 8th L.D., one regiment native cavalry. 
Infantry — H.M. 22nd, 101st (E.I.C. Regt.), two native battalions. 

134 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xm 

1805. But the treaty was such that the General would 
never have agreed to it except under instructions. 
After Cornwallis's death Sir George Barlow succeeded 
to the Government as Senior Member of Council ; and 
he pushed his predecessor's views to extremes. A treaty 
was negotiated with Scindia by which Gwalior and 
Gohud were ceded to him as a matter of grace, though 
not of right ; and to Holkar there was restored the 
whole of his dominions intact. This would have been 
comparatively a small matter, had not Barlow renounced 
also all treaties whereby British protection was granted 
to native princes. This abandonment of men, who had 
given the British invaluable aid at critical times, to the 
mercy of a ruffianly robber like Holkar, was a bitter 
grief to Lake, who pleaded earnestly on behalf, at least, 
of the Rajahs of Jeypore and Boondy. But Barlow was 
inflexible, and even went so far as to order that the 
treaty of protection with the Rajah of Bhurtpore should 
also be abrogated. But here Lake refused to give way, 
and drew such a picture of the confusion which must 
inevitably follow, as to frighten the acting Viceroy into 
compliance, at any rate for the present, with his will. 

The war therefore ended, as have^so many British 
wars, with the concession of all that had been gained by 
great expenditure of blood and treasure, in order that 
more blood and treasure might be expended in fighting 
another war for the same object in the near future. 
British Governments — perhaps it would hardly be fair 
to say the British nation — are seized from time to time 
with these revulsions of feeling, which they call remorse 
and ascribe to conscience, but which should be called 
weariness and ascribed to timidity. The sufferers on 
such occasions are not the British themselves, but the 
unhappy allies whom they have drawn to their side in 
the course of the contest, and whom they desert at the 
hour of trial ; and it is from them, and not from 
formidable rivals, that Britain has truly earned the title 
of perfidious Albion. The work, which had been left 
unfinished, needed of course to be done anew. The 


power of the Mahrattas was in great measure broken ; 1805. 
but two more wars, and the victories of Maheidpore 
and of Maharajpore and Punniar, were necessary in 1 8 1 7 
and 1839, before the descendants of Sevajee would 
accept the fact that the British and not they were to be 
final masters of India. 

Long before that time most of the chief actors in the 
drama of the great Mahratta war had passed away. 
Jeswunt Rao Holkar, after a few years of excessive indul- 
gence in brandy, died in 181 1. Lake embarked for 
England in February 1807, but died soon after his 
return on the 28th of February 1808, in time to 
be spared the pain of mourning for the gallant son who 
had been wounded by his side at Laswaree, and who fell 
at Rolica in the same year 1 808. Though he can hardly 
be reckoned a great general, Lake left behind him such 
fame as has been gained by few British officers among 
the native troops of India ; and worthily he had earned 
it, for on the field of battle he was not only a grand leader 
but a great commander. Had he been born a French- 
man and served under Napoleon, he would assuredly 
have won a marshal's baton by sheer hard fighting ; 
and the Great Captain, who loathed the very name of 
supplies, 1 and declared that twenty thousand men could 
live in a desert, would have pardoned him many short- 
comings for the sake of his surpassing prowess in 
action. Lake's military experience had been remark- 
able, for he had been matched first against the crafty 
and tenacious Americans in the most difficult and 
dangerous of all the wars fought in the eighteenth 
century, then against the tumultuary armies of France 
in 1793, and lastly against the Mahrattas in the plains 
of India ; and he had seized victory by the hair at 
Linselles as at Laswaree. As a disciplinarian he was 
strict ; but, like Abercromby, he took thought for the 
comfort of his men, and while making great demands 
upon their courage and endurance, never subjected them 
to fatigue for no object. He spared himself as little as 
1 " Les vivres ! Ne m'en parlez pas." 


1805. he spared his men, and whether it was the cavalry or 
the infantry that was bearing the brunt of action, Lake, 
for all his sixty years, was always to be found at their 
head in the thickest of the press and the hottest of the 
fire. With such qualities and with natural affability 
of manner and kindness of heart, he was adored by all 
ranks of his army ; and under his leadership they 
wrought marvels. Few, unfortunately, now know any- 
thing of the battles which he won ; and his most famous 
battalion, the Seventy-sixth, which should at least bear 
Lake's crest upon its colours, has, under a new organisa- 
tion, become associated with the still greater name of 
Wellington. 1 None the less should it always be re- 
membered as the fighting battalion of one of Britain's 
greatest fighting generals. 

But here the praise of Lake must end. The siege 
of Bhurtpore stands out as a sad example of his 
impatience and his love of rough-and-ready methods ; 
but the despatch of Monson's detachment on its 
isolated march to the south remains a still greater blot 
upon his fame. For this measure showed that he had 
not studied his enemy, nor thought out the means 
of making every movement of the— campaign con- 
tribute to his ruin. His fault, it is true, was not 
greater than Napoleon's when he sent Dupont's corps 
in similar circumstances to Andalusia; and it was, 
perhaps, a misfortune for Lake that such a man 
as Arthur Wellesley should have been his rival in the 
field ; but against the background of Wellesley's 
achievements the defects of Lake became very con- 
spicuous. If it were only Assaye that were to be 
compared with Laswaree, the elder General would 
have nothing to fear ; but beneath Assaye is the 
solid structure of communications thoroughly guarded, 
magazines and advanced bases carefully stored, trans- 
port laboriously organised ; everything provided that 
prudence and sagacity could foresee, nothing left to 

1 It is now the second battalion of the Duke of Wellington's 
(West Riding) Regiment. 



chance which could be assured by industry and care. 1 
It must at the same time be admitted that Lake, unlike 
Wellesley, fought his campaigns in a country of which 
very much was absolutely new and strange to the 
British ; and that he had not Wellesley's good fortune 
in possessing Mysore bullocks for the transport of his 
army. Moreover, though Wellesleys are rare, Gerard 
Lakes are rare also ; and an honourable place in the 
Army's history must always be reserved for this in- 
domitable Guardsman, whose magic of leadership could 
make men march and fight beyond their ordinary 
powers. Loyal to his men, loyal to his officers, loyal 
to his superiors, brave as his sword, a cool strong master 
in the direction of a battle, a fiery youth in the leading 
of a charge, he was a type of English gentleman which 
is of untold worth to the Army. 


The reader has been detained for long in the East, but 
there remains still to be narrated the story of a 
forgotten little war in that quarter which, from its 
extreme inopportuneness, threatened at one moment 
to carry with it very serious consequences. 

The British, it will be remembered, had in 1796 
captured from the Dutch their settlements in the island 
of Ceylon. We of this generation have generally 
assumed that those settlements embraced the entire 
country ; but they did not. The Dutch possessed 
indeed the whole coast-line of the island, measuring in 
circumference some seven hundred miles ; but the 
mountainous country of the centre was still un- 
conquered, and owed no allegiance except to the King 
of Kandy. The Kandians were not comfortable 
neighbours. They were not formidable and they 
were not aggressive, but they were amazingly conceited, 
jealous, and suspicious ; unwilling to enter into any 
negotiation with the Dutch, except as superiors treating 
with inferiors, and therefore requiring extravagant 
concessions alike of solid gain and of outward respect. 
Such an attitude never commends itself to a commercial 
nation ; and it was galling to the Dutch to find them- 
selves unable to push their trade, as well as inconvenient 
to possess no road from Colombo to Trincomalee 
except that which followed the coast. At last in 1766 
the Dutch declared war, and after many skirmishes and 
considerable loss in the field, took possession of Kandy, 
only to find themselves very little the better for their 



exertions. Their object was either to conquer the 
country outright, or to dethrone the reigning king ; 
but they had not troops enough to accomplish the 
former, and there was no means of dethroning the king 
except by capturing him, which in spite of desperate 
efforts they completely failed to do. The operations 
were prolonged for some time with no very decisive 
result, and in the end a treaty of peace was concluded, 
of which it need only be said that it left the position 
of Kandy wholly unweakened. 

When the British captured the island in 1796 they 
too sent an embassy to Kandy, offering concessions in 
the matter of navigation which were thought too liberal ; 
but the treaty was none the less rejected by the King. 
It unfortunately happened also that the expedition 
which took Ceylon was sent from India, and was 
therefore at first administered by Indian civil servants. 
These gentlemen brought with them not only their 
detestable system of inflated correspondence, but also 
Malabar agents as their underlings, who superseded 
the native headmen. By oppressive abuse of their 
masters' authority, these subordinates soon drove the 
unfortunate Cingalese into spasmodic rebellion ; and 
although the Malabar agents were presently removed 
and the native officers restored, the incident was not 
likely to give the Kandians, who hated all white in- 
truders impartially, a favourable impression of British 

In 1798 the King of Kandy died ; whereupon 1798. 
Pelime Talauve, the chief minister or (to give him his 
local title) First Adigar, contrived to oust all members 
of the royal family in favour of a young Malabar of 
obscure extraction, whom he seated on the throne as 
his puppet, becoming himself the true governor of the 
country. The relations of the deceased sovereign he 
placed in confinement, from which they presently 
escaped ; and one of them, named Moottoo Sawmy, 
who had the strongest pretension to the Crown, solicited 
for himself and his fellow refugees the protection of the 

140 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1798. British Government. The legitimate claimant of an 
usurped throne is always a tempting instrument to a 
diplomatist who has an object to gain ; but the 
Governor, Mr. Frederick North, declined to take 
advantage of it in this case. The Kandians seemed to 
be content with their new King ; and North therefore 
put Moottoo under surveillance, so that he should be 
unable to give any trouble to the government in 

1799. ^ ot l° n S afterwards, in February 1799, the First 
Adigar approached North with mysterious proposals, 
which in December he made clearer by inviting the 
Governor directly to assist him in making away with 
the new King, and in placing himself, Pelime Talauve, 
upon the throne ; which done, he promised to make 
the British masters of the country. North naturally 
rejected this overture with indignation ; and the Adigar 
then addressed himself to the Secretary of Ceylon, 
declaring that he hated the royal race of Malabars, the 
oppressors of his fatherland, and that he had raised his 
puppet to the sovereignty with the object of bringing 
the whole clan into contempt and rousing the people 
to drive them out for ever. The Secretary answered 
that the British would never conspire to depose a 
foreign prince who had been guilty of no aggression 
against them ; whereupon the Adigar innocently inquired 
whether an invasion of British territory would be a 
sufficiently aggressive act to answer the purpose, a 
question which not unnaturally stimulated North to 
excessive anxiety and suspicion. 

What real purpose, if any, may have underlain these 
dark overtures of the Adigar, it is difficult to say ; but 
in any case North thenceforth was filled with appre- 
hensions concerning the murder of the King of Kandy 
and the invasion of British territory. He now tried to 
approach that potentate more directly, and proposed 
that General Macdowall, who commanded the troops 
in Ceylon, should go ambassador to Kandy with a 
sufficient escort, in order to remove the person of the 


King to British ground if he was in danger, or if not, 1799. 
to negotiate what was called in India a subsidiary treaty. 
Macdowall accordingly started on his mission in March 
1800; but most of his escort was stopped at the 1800. 
frontier, and though he himself proceeded to the 
capital, the embassy came to naught. A new negotia- 
tion, opened soon afterwards by one of the nobles of 
the Kandian court, was equally a failure, as were also 
sundry efforts made by North to approach the King 
through other channels than the First Adigar. Through- 
out this time Pelime Talauve was reported to be active 
in inciting his countrymen to war, and the natives in 
British territory to revolt. 

Early in 1802 the First Adigar or his instruments 1802. 
twice approached Governor North with the old in- 
vitation to join in dethroning the King of Kandy, with 
the usual result, of course, of indignant refusal. In 
April matters took a more serious turn. Certain April, 
native merchants, British subjects, were arrested in 
Kandian territory while carrying on a commerce which 
was sanctioned by long usage ; and their goods were 
taken from them. Rightly or wrongly, North inter- 
preted this as deliberate provocation to war ; but it 
was not until September, after minute investigation of Sept. 
the case, that he forwarded a remonstrance to Kandy. 
He fully expected at this time that he would be com- 
pelled to resort to force to bring the King to reason ; 
but to his astonishment he was answered not only by a 
promise of speedy redress but by an expression of the 
First Adigar's wish to conclude a friendly treaty. North 
replied that he was equally anxious for an amicable 
arrangement, but that, before any further negotiation, he 
must insist upon knowing the King of Kandy 's sentiments 
with regard to the treaty already submitted to him by 
Macdowall. This answer was decisive. The Kandians 
were an ignorant and unwarlike people ; but they, and 
particularly those about the court, were filled with 
extravagant conceit of their greatness and superiority ; 
and however unreasonable it may have seemed to North, 


1802 they were not disposed to place their foreign policy 
under British direction, to exclude all Europeans except 
those who bore a British passport, to see their native 
troops disarmed and a British force quartered in the 
capital, to yield up a part of their territory in payment 
for this privilege, and to see the frontier between their 
own land and the British thrown open for purposes of 
trade. They wished to keep their country for them 
selves in all its primitive sanctity and isolation. It was 
bad enough that foreigners should rule the seven 
hundred miles of coast that ringed the mountains 
about, but it was intolerable that they should be 
masters of Kandy. The First Adigar therefore evaded 
the grant of the promised redress to the merchants who 
had been despoiled, and in spite of all protests, massed 
such rude warriors as he possessed upon the frontier 
His action was easily to be explained by a natural 
desire, by no means alien to British sentiment, to pre 
serve the independence of his country. North, how- 
ever, could see in it nothing but the nefarious perversity 

1803. of an incurable evil-doer. On the 31st of January 
1803 ne ordered his troops to march upon Kandy. 

The garrison of Ceylon at this tirrffc consisted of the 
Nineteenth, Fifty-first, and a small detachment of the 
Eightieth Foot, 1 a battalion of native infantry, two 
companies of artillery lent temporarily by the Indian 
Government, and a battalion of Malays, the last-named 
extremely untrustworthy and dangerous troops. The 
Europeans numbered about fourteen hundred men 
altogether ; 2 and these, as well as the native troops 
were distributed in small detachments over a dozen 
different stations, with no advantage, as may be supposed 
to their discipline. The force was amply sufficient 
to overcome such resistance as could be offered by the 
Kandians ; but this was the least of the difficulties of 
the coming campaign. In the first place, there was 
from climatic causes but one month in the year when 

1 The rest of the Eightieth was in Egypt. 
2 There are no returns of their strength in 1803. 


the force could take the field ; in the second place, 1 
the Kandian territory was unexplored, the passes in 
the mountains were extremely dangerous, and the tracks 
and paths were so bad as to forbid not only wheeled 
traffic but even pack-animals ; and in the third place, 
it was more than doubtful whether the mere capture of 
the capital would in itself produce the slighest effect 
in reducing the King of Kandy or his advisers to sub- 
mission. These obstacles, however, North appears 
either to have appreciated insufficiently or to have 
ignored. He had little doubt but that in a month he 
would bring his recalcitrant neighbour to reason. 

The advance upon Kandy was to be made by two 
distinct columns operating from two distinct bases, the 
one from Colombo on the west coast, the other from 
Trincomalee on the east. The first column, under the 
command of General Macdowall, was made up of the 
Fifty-first, two companies of the Nineteenth, a thousand 
native infantry, two weak companies of Bengal Artillery, 
and a small force of pioneers ; in all from eighteen to 
nineteen hundred men. The second column, under 
Colonel Barbutt, was of slightly inferior strength, 
comprising five companies of the Nineteenth, the greater 
part of a battalion of Malays, and one company of 
Madras Artillery. 

On the evening of the 31st of January Macdowall 
marched out of Colombo, and after an inspection of his 
troops by the Governor on the next day, crossed the 
Kalany Gunga at daybreak of the 2nd of February. 
Thence his march lay northward upon Ja Ela to Halpe, 
from which point he turned a little north of east to P 
Allugalla on the Maha Oya river, and on the 6th of 
February reached Kotadeniyawa. This place, having 
good communication by water with Negombo and the 
coast, had been selected as the site for a magazine ; and 
Macdowall halted for four days to throw up a small 
redoubt for its protection, the work receiving the name 
of Fort Frederick in honour of the Governor. Then 
leaving a garrison of a hundred Sepoys and a few 

i 4 4 HISTORY OF THE ARMY bookxiii 

1803. Europeans to hold it, he resumed his advance on the 
Feb. 10. 10th, and fording the Maha Oya on that day at Giriulla, 
entered Kandian territory. 

From this point forward, owing to the difficulty of 
the roads in the interior, men's shoulders formed the 
only possible means of transport, and all baggage was 
therefore reduced as low as might be. The country, 
however, was still fertile and well cultivated, and the 
troops had to wade for a part of the first two marches 
through paddy-fields, knee-deep in mud and water; 
but the men were healthy and the inhabitants friendly, 
being ordered, as they said, by the King to supply the 
Feb. 11. English with all that they wanted. The second day's 
march brought the column to Dambadeniyawa, little 
more than five miles in a straight line from Giriulla ; 
and here supplies failed owing to the death of a com- 
missary. The force therefore again halted for four days, 
formed a magazine, and threw up a redoubt to protect 
Feb. On the 16th Macdowall resumed his march in an 
easterly direction, and for the first time traversed a 
distance of rather over ten miles. But the roads were so 
bad that it was necessary to dismount the three-pounder 
guns which he had with him, and to* employ men to 
carry them. The baggage-coolies fell far behind, and 
Feb. 17. the column was consequently unable on the morrow 
to advance more than six miles to the Magroo Oya 
river. A picquet of the enemy was surprised fast 
asleep on this day, and fled with such precipitation on 
being awakened, as to diminish any anxiety that the 
British might have felt about an active resistance. 

Still moving eastward, Macdowall, after a very 
fatiguing march of fifteen miles, reached the Deek 
Feb. 18. Oya on the 18th, and on the following day encountered 
Feb. 19. the two most formidable posts upon the road. The 
first, a square and open redoubt, 1 built of hewn stone 
and seated at the top of a rocky mountain, completely 
commanded the narrow pass which led to it ; but the 

1 Macdowall calls it Galle Gidehu ; Cordiner calls it Galle 
Gedera. I cannot find it upon any map. 


Kandians, making no effort at defence, fled instantly, 1803. 
abandoning three guns and a quantity of ammunition. Feb - J 9- 
The next stronghold, Geriagame, lay beyond it, very 
similar in construction, and so situated that a few 
resolute men might, as was said, have defended it with 
a shower of stones. The approach to it was by a kind of 
natural stairway, winding up the side of the mountain 
between impervious thickets, and intersected by a series 
of perpendicular rocks, all of which were within range of 
the cannon above. The Grenadiers of the Nineteenth, 
being in advance, were the first to draw near the fort, 
and were at once saluted by a very noisy and ineffective 
fire, under which they toiled up to the enemy's guns 
and walked into the battery. The enemy promptly 
fled as they entered, carrying their wounded with them ; 
but Macdowall in the rear, judging from the prolonged 
cannonade that there was serious resistance, hurried the 
entire column with all haste over the pass. The 
casualties amounted to no more than two men wounded ; 
but the rapid ascent of the rugged path seems to have 
strained the men beyond belief; and it appears that 
many soon afterwards succumbed to the effects of the 
exertion, or at least were so much weakened by it as 
to be unable to stand against the fever which presently 
beset them. 

A garrison was left in this important post, the 
capture of which threw open the road to Kandy. 
Macdowall now turned south, and halting in the after- 
noon at Kattugastotte, on the Maha-villa-ganga, fired 
three guns as a signal to Barbutt, whose artillery he 
had heard after the storm of Geriagame. The signal 
was promptly answered, for Barbutt was in fact within 
two miles of him. He had met with a trifling resistance 
at a pass close to Kandy, and again at the Maha-villa- 
ganga, but had overcome both by a few cannon-shots ; 
and thus the two columns starting from opposite coasts 
of the island effected their junction almost to an hour 
within three miles of their destination. On the 21st Feb. 21. 
therefore the two commanders entered the city, each 
vol. v L 



1803. with a strong detachment of his force, in great content. 

Feb. 2 1 . Barbutt had not a single casualty nor even a sick man 
in his camp. Macdowall could hardly say as much, 
for some of his Sepoys had fallen down with fever, but 
the Europeans were in remarkably good health. Both 
of them, and still more Governor North, looked upon 
their work as well done. 1 

The aspect of Kandy, however, was not reassuring. 
The main street with its two miles of mean houses, its 
innumerable branching lanes, its palace and its temples, 
stood untouched in the plain within its ring of wooded 
mountains ; but not a living creature, with the exception 
of a few dogs, was to be seen in it. The city in fact 
was deserted ; the treasure and everything of value had 
been carried off ; the magazine had been blown up, 
and several of the buildings were in flames. After 
1 8 1 2 such a scene would inevitably have reminded a 
general of a like desolation at Moscow; but this was 
in February 1803, when Napoleon was still First Consul. 
Macdowall, Barbutt, and North were perfectly easy and 
satisfied, and knew exactly, as they thought, what was 
best to be done. On his march from Trincomalee 
Barbutt had reported that if Moottoo Sawmy, the 
rightful claimant to the throne of Kandy, would but 
join him, every Kandian on that side of the country 
would flock to his standard. This done, provisions for 
the army could be obtained without difficulty. North 
grasped eagerly at the idea. He at once gave directions 
that Moottoo Sawmy should be escorted to the capital, 
intending that in return the new King should cede to 
the British two large and rich districts, known as the 
Seven Korales and the Saffragam Korale, lying on the 
west and north of the Kandian territories. Barbutt 
accordingly marched with the Malay regiment to meet 

Mar. 4. Moottoo ; and on the evening of the 4th of March the 
poor puppet was duly brought by the British troops 
into Kandy. 

1 Macdowall to North, 5th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 24th Feb. ; Barbutt 
to North, 19th, 20th Feb. 1803. 


In due course North's proposals were submitted to 1803. 
him, and not a little to Macdowall's surprise, were 
resisted with considerable spirit. North, to do him 
justice, willingly abated his claims ; and finally a 
convention was signed whereby the British Government 
agreed to deliver to Moottoo the town of Kandy and 
the whole of the Kandian territory at that time occupied 
by British troops, receiving in return the district of 
Seven Korales, the two hill -forts of Geriagame and 
Galle Gedera, a strip of ground sufficient to make a 
road from Colombo to Trincomalee, and certain facilities 
for commerce. All this would have been highly 
satisfactory had the Kandians but shown the slightest 
disposition to receive Moottoo as their ruler ; but on 
the contrary not a soul would go near him, so that he 
found himself in the palace at Kandy with no further 
adherents than his own servants and the British guard. 
On the other hand, the deposed King and the First 
Adigar, who had fled to a royal palace two days' march 
from the capital, enjoyed full control of their bands of 
followers and were not slow to prove it. Parties of 
armed men skulked continually round the British 
outposts, hiding themselves by day but firing at the 
sentries by night, and slaughtering every straggler, 
coolie, or armed follower, with barbarous mutilation. 

But this was not the worst. A few days after the 
occupation of Kandy the effects of fatiguing marches 
began to tell upon the troops ; and presently jungle 
fever attacked them, especially the Sepoys, with terrible 
virulence. On the 9th of March Macdowall reported Mar. 9. 
5 that he had little more than eighteen hundred bayonets 
e fit for duty, that, unless the people should speedily 
t declare for Moottoo Sawmy, all hope of reducing the 
I interior must be abandoned, and that the army, with 
e the exception of a thousand men to hold Kandy itself, 
i must be withdrawn without delay to Trincomalee and 
Colombo. Then a sudden gleam of hope appeared in 
i the shape of a message from the First Adigar, giving 
full information as to the position of the King's refuge 



1803. at Hangaramkatty, as to the easiest roads by which to 
approach it, and the nature of the resistance to be 
expected. He also requested that two strong columns 
might be sent out to converge upon it simultaneously 
by different routes, promising that he personally would 
be present to assist in delivering the monarch into the 
hands of the British. Nothing doubting, Macdowall, 

Mar. 13. on the morning of the 13th of March, sent out two 
detachments, the one of five hundred, the other of 
three hundred men. The country through which they 
had to pass was by nature difficult, and they had 
not marched many miles before they realised that 
the enemy had turned its strength to account. Guns 
were posted upon every height that commanded the 
path of the columns, and sharp-shooters lurked in 
ambush in the thickest of the jungle. Heavy firing 
soon began, and a single volley struck down two 
officers and several men, both British and native. With 
incredible labour and harassed at every step, the troops 
forced their way forward through a perpetual fire ; and 
after traversing nearly thirty miles, the two columns 

Mar. 14. found themselves on the evening of the 14th before 
Hangaramkatty. The palace was instantly taken 
without much resistance ; but the King had fled ; and 
pursuit, owing to want of transport and supplies, was 
impossible. The building was therefore burnt, and the 
two detachments reached Kandy safely on the evening 

Mar. 16. of the 1 6th. The loss of the troops was slight, not 
much exceeding twenty wounded, thanks to the bad 
marksmanship of the Kandians, but nineteen unfortunate 
transport-coolies were killed, and that at a time when 
their numbers were already seriously diminished. In 
fact, the entire movement was a complete and rather! 
humiliating failure. 1 

The monsoon was now near at hand ; it was evident! 
that the object of the expedition could not be secured 
without another campaign ; and North began to grow 

1 Macdowall to North, 5th, 9th, 14th, 18th March; Colonel 
Baillie to Macdowall, 16th March 1803. 


anxious. The refusal of the Kandians to accept 1803. 
Moottoo Sawmy as their King had upset all his 
calculations ; and that unhappy man's failure to perform 
the part which the British Government had put him 
forward to enact, was quite sufficient, in the Governor's 
view, to absolve it from all engagements. On the 
23rd of March, therefore, North instructed Macdowall Mar. 2 
to dissuade Moottoo from being proclaimed King, since 
the British could not undertake to support him. He 
spoke too late. On that very day Macdowall, though 
acknowledging that the authority of the fugitive 
sovereign was now greater than it had ever been, with 
singular want of judgment installed Moottoo Sawmy 
as King of Kandy amid all the ceremony of a royal 
salute. Twenty -four hours later came news from 
Madras that General Arthur Wellesley was on his 
march from Hurryhur to Poona, and that at such a 
conjuncture not a man could be spared from the Mar. 2 
Presidency for Ceylon. North instantly wrote to 
Macdowall that the quarrel with Kandy must be made 
up at once, and that overtures must be reopened with 
the First Adigar ; but he was fain to add that the city 
of Kandy must be held until some convention had, been 
agreed to. He was soon to learn that the contest with 
Kandy was not so easily to be concluded. 1 

While North was thus hurriedly multiplying orders 
to Macdowall, that officer became unpleasantly aware, 
during the last fortnight of March, that his communi- 
cations with Colombo were interrupted. Several small 
parties of coolies with provisions had been murdered ; 
one mail had been captured from its escort of Sepoys at 
Dambadeniyawa ; the rest had been stopped through 
want of sufficient protection ; and it was only by sending Mar. 3 
down a powerful detachment that Macdowall, on the 30th, 
I contrived at last to bring in despatches and supplies. 
I Moreover, tumultuous bodies of Kandians had broken 
I at more than one point into British territory, and 

I 1 North to Col. Sec. of Ceylon, 19th March; to Colonel 
I Bar butt, 23rd March ; to Macdowall, 25 th March 1803. 

i 5 o 


1803. though easily dispersed by a few dozen British soldiers, 
March, kept the country in constant agitation and alarm. Even 
this was not the worst. Many of the posts on the line 
of communication proved to be extremely unhealthy, 
Fort Frederick in particular being the most deadly of 
all. On the 13th of March, when its first commandant 
had already been carried from it to die, it was reinforced 
by seventy-five men of the Sixty-fifth and fifty Cingalese 
infantry. Every individual of this detachment was 
struck down by fever ; and orders were despatched 
for the redoubt to be destroyed and the post to be 
evacuated ; but none the less within a month of the 
13th of March one officer and two men were all that 
survived of the whole party. 

However, North's negotiations seemed at first to 
Mar. 30. bear fruit, for on the 30th of March the Second Adigar 
came to Kandy bearing the emblems of peace ; and 
with him Macdowall arranged what he thought to be a 
satisfactory truce. Thereby the First Adigar was to 
be invested with supreme authority in Kandy, paying 
an annual allowance to Moottoo Sawmy, who was to 
retire to JafFnapatam ; and the British were to receive 
the province of the Seven KoralSs, the road to 
Trincomaiee and Fort Macdowall, and a fort which 
commanded that road at a distance of about eleven miles 
due north of Kandy, together with the district around 
April 1. it. This done, on the 1st of April the General marched 
back to Colombo with the Fifty-first, and sent a part 
of the Nineteenth to Trincomaiee ; leaving in Kandy 
the rest of the Nineteenth, detachments of the East 
India Company's artillery, and some companies of 
Malays. In all three hundred Europeans and seven 
hundred natives remained as a garrison for the city 
under the command of Colonel Barbutt. 
April 2. On the next day after Macdowall's departure the 
First Adigar advanced with a large force to within 
three miles of Kandy ; but the movement excited no 
alarm, for it was generally supposed that the truce 
would shortly be converted into a durable peace. Nor 


did these favourable appearances seem likely to be 1803. 
belied, for not many days later the Adigar sent a 
message to North requesting an interview for the final 
settlement of the treaty. A meeting was accordingly 
held on the 3rd of May at Dambadeniyawa, the capital 
of the province so greatly coveted by North — the Seven 
Korales. The terms agreed upon by Macdowall and 
the Second Adigar were discussed and ratified, with the 
stipulation, which to North seemed a mere matter of 
form, that the execution of the treaty should be delayed 
until the King of Kandy should be delivered into the hands 
of the British. Until that time hostilities were to cease. 1 
All now seemed to be in train for a happy ending to 
the quarrel. Some slight embarrassment was caused 
by the sudden illness of Barbutt, to whom, as com- 
mandant of Kandy, the execution of the treaty was to 
have been committed ; but at the request of the First 
Adigar, Macdowall went up temporarily to take his 
place. The General duly arrived at the capital on the 
23rd of May, and found a miserable state of things. May 23. 
The garrison, both black and white, was reduced to a 
shadow by fever ; many had perished, and nearly all of 
the European soldiers were in hospital. Macdowall's 
brigade-major had been stricken on the journey upward 
and sent back to Colombo, and both he himself and his 
one remaining staff-officer were attacked by the same 
malady a few days after their arrival in Kandy. In 
weakness and misery they awaited in vain the coming 
of the First Adigar ; until at last, on the 2nd of June, June 2. 
arrived an ominous message that he could not attend 
the General without the permission of the King. 
Therewith all hopes of a treaty vanished, and North 
found himself for the twentieth time the dupe of his 
crafty antagonist. Macdowall and his aide-de-camp, 
still prostrate with sickness, left Kandy on the nth of June 11. 
June, and by good fortune reached Colombo alive on 
the 19th. They were the last white men to set eyes 
upon the isolated garrison in the hills. 

1 North to Hobart, 4th May 1803. 

152 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xm 

1803. The epidemic fever had by this time spread over the 
greater part of Ceylon, attacking blacks and whites 
alike with savage virulence. In Colombo itself it 
reduced the Fifty -first from four hundred to one 
hundred men in less than three months ; and within 
the Kandian territory its ravages were even more 
frightful. The Kandians, though themselves not spared 
by it, welcomed it as an ally and seconded it with 
vigour. The newly appointed commissioner to the 
Seven Korales was driven from his post within a month, 
leaving his secretary dead of fever behind him. The 
unhappy transport-coolies, who were still employed to 
carry supplies up to Kandy, covered the road with their 
corpses, falling victims some to the sword, some to 
fever, some to small-pox, some even to famine. In 
Kandy itself by the third week in June the British 
soldiers were dying at the rate of six a day ; and the 
Malay troops, their only comrades, were beginning to 
desert. The Kandian warriors meanwhile crept nearer 
and nearer to the city, entrenching themselves in strong 
positions until their time should come. The First 
Adigar, wishing to cut matters short, proposed to 
Major Davie, upon whom the chie£» command had 
devolved, to make a second expedition to Hangaram- 
katty in pursuit of the fugitive king. To give colour 
to his suggestion, he alleged that he himself was out of 
favour, and that this was the only method whereby 
peace could be obtained ; but Davie was not to be 
deceived by this trick, even if he could have collected 
men enough for the enterprise. For his British soldiers 
did not cease to die, nor his Malays to desert. 

North now realised that it was high time to evacuate 
Kandian territory ; and accordingly a small detachment 

June 17. of Ceylon native infantry was ordered, on the 17th of 
June, to proceed at once to Kandy in order to help to 
escort the sick. But from the extreme difficulty of 
procuring coolies the party was unable to set out until 
the 26th ; and meanwhile the Kandians struck their 

June 23. decisive blow. On the 23rd the posts of Geriagame 


and Galle Gedera were surprised and taken, a mishap 1803. 
which seems less extraordinary when the amazing truth J une 2 3- 
is told that in each of them there were stationed but 
one sergeant and twelve privates of the Malay regiment, 
of whom one-third had deserted already to the enemy. 
By the fall of these two strong places communications 
between Colombo and Kandy were finally severed ; 
and on that same day the First Adigar warned Major 
Davie that, in spite of all his efforts to prevent 
it, the British garrison in Kandy would shortly be 

Davie made his dispositions for defence ; and at four June 24. 
o'clock next morning the Kandians assailed a post on 
the hill in rear of the palace where the British troops 
were quartered. This small guard, which consisted of 
but ten native soldiers with a light field-gun, was 
easily overpowered ; and an hour later a strong body of 
Kandian Malays attempted to storm the palace by the 
eastern barrier, where Davie had stationed a second gun. 
They were met by a Lieutenant and a few men of the 
Nineteenth ; and the leaders of the two bands closed 
in a hand-to-hand struggle, wherein the Malay mortally 
stabbed the British officer, but was himself immediately 
slain by the Adjutant of the Nineteenth. The alarm 
was at once sounded ; and a single discharge of grape 
swept away twenty-four of the Kandians, who thereupon 
withdrew to a distance and kept up a galling fire from 
their light native field-pieces. The British guns replied ; 

I and the duel was maintained continually until two 
o'clock in the afternoon, when many European officers 
entreated Davie to enter into a capitulation, since the 

1 enemy was advancing in such numbers that the palace 
could not be held for much longer. Nor was this 
merely pusillanimous counsel, for the British soldiers 

I were reduced to a handful of twenty men, nominally 
fit for duty but in reality convalescents who were not 

I yet recovered. Of their comrades one hundred and 
twenty were helpless in hospital, and the remainder 
were dead. There were left the Malay regiment, 

154 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xm 

1803. which recent events had proved to be not over 
June 24. faithful, and the lascars of the East India Company's 
artillery. Moreover, the officers themselves were so 
weak and exhausted that they were hardly equal to 
further resistance. After some hesitation, Davie hoisted 
a white flag, and was presently escorted, together 
with a loyal native officer of the Malays, to the 
quarters of the First Adigar. It was then agreed that 
the British garrison should march out with its arms 
on the road to Trincomalee, and that Moottoo Sawmy 
should be allowed to accompany them ; in return for 
which the Adigar undertook to feed and tend the 
British sick until they could be removed. The con- 
ditions were reduced to writing and signed ; and the 
Adigar further gave Davie a passport in the King's 
name to enable him to proceed towards Trincomalee 

At five o'clock on the same evening the garrison 
marched out, fourteen British officers, twenty British 
soldiers, about one hundred lascars, two hundred and 
fifty Malays, and in the midst of them the unfortunate 
Moottoo Sawmy. 1 After proceeding for a mile and a 
half they were stopped by the river Maha-villa-ganga, 
when, finding neither rafts nor boats to enable them to 
cross, they bivouacked for the night in pouring rain. 
June 25. Next morning the troops were engaged in making rafts 
when a number of armed Kandians appeared ; and 
some chiefs, approaching Davie, said that the King was 
much enraged that the garrison had been allowed to 
leave Kandy, but that he would give the troops boats 
and forward them on their way, if they would yield 
up Moottoo Sawmy to him. Davie reminded the 
messengers of the terms of the capitulation, and refused. 
Two hours later another party of chiefs came up with 
an intimation to Moottoo Sawmy from the King that 

1 These are Cordiner's figures, which seem to me to be probably- 
correct. The last return of the garrison shows sixteen British 
officers and thirty men, eleven native officers, and four hundred 
and sixty-five native troops fit for duty. 


he desired to embrace and protect him. Once again 1803. 
Davie refused to let him go; and the messengers J une 2 5- 
presently returning threatened that, if Moottoo Sawmy 
were not given up, the King would send his whole force 
to seize him and prevent the British troops from 
crossing the river. Finally Davie, after consultation 
with his officers, told Moottoo that he had no longer 
power to detain him, and that the King had promised 
to treat him kindly. Moottoo answered with a bitter 
reproach, which was only too well merited. Davie was 
in a difficult position ; but it is plain that he and his 
garrison hoped to buy their own salvation by throwing 
this unfortunate puppet, whom their own arms had set 
up, as a sop to the Kandians. Though, as it turned 
out, Moottoo Sawmy 's fate could hardly have been 
different whatever the decision of the British commander, 
yet it was none the less base and mean to abandon him. 
The victim was led away to Kandy and to instant death ; 
and Davie was destined to pay dearly for the sacrifice. 

In the afternoon a few Kandians joined the British, 
and made ostensible preparations to help them to cross 
the river, both then and on the following morning. June 26. 
Still no boats appeared ; and when, after many diffi- 
culties, a British officer succeeded in passing a warp 
to the opposite bank, the rope was presently cut by the 
Kandians. Upon this the Malays and lascars began to 
desert in small parties to the enemy ; and at eleven 
o'clock a mob of Kandians ranged themselves close to 
the forlorn British, while a chief advanced to bid them 
in the King's name lay down their arms and march 
back to Kandy, on pain of being immediately surrounded 
and put to death. With extraordinary infatuation, 
Davie and his officers decided to obey ; and the whole 
party was then marched off. Presently the British 
were halted between two ranks of Kandians ; and the 
Malays were bidden to advance, which, with a few 
exceptions, they did. The Europeans were then led 
out two by two, and their brains were dashed out with 
the butts of muskets. Two officers, Davie and another, 

156 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xm 

1803. alone were preserved and taken back to Kandy ; a third 
June 26. made his escape, but was captured and soon after- 
wards died ; one corporal of the Nineteenth, named 
Barnsley, though desperately wounded and left for dead, 
recovered his senses and contrived to crawl back to Fort 
Macdowall. Meanwhile the whole of the Europeans 
in hospital at Kandy had likewise been murdered in 
cold blood, to the number, according to one account, of 
one hundred and twenty ; but it appears more likely 
that the full tale of the victims amounted to nearly one 
hundred and ninety. In a word, between desertion and 
massacre, the entire garrison of Kandy was annihilated. 

This attack was the signal for several others in 
various quarters, one and all of them so feeble, spiritless, 
and contemptible, as to make Davie's weakness more 
than difficult of explanation. Captain Madge of the 
Nineteenth, who was in command at Fort Macdowall, 
June 25. wa s assailed on the 25th and on the two following days, 
but held his own stoutly, though he had but thirteen 
men, fortunately all Europeans, fit for duty. Then 
Corporal Barnsley brought the news of the massacre at 
Kandy ; and Madge thought it prudent to evacuate 
the post by night, unfortunately leaving nineteen sick 
men of his regiment behind him for want of transport, 
but bringing off three officers. For four days he 
marched towards Trincomalee under an incessant fire, 
until he met a small column of a hundred men from that 
garrison, on the sight of which the enemy instantly fled. 
At Dambadeniyawa also the fort, a feeble structure of 
fascines and earth, was from the 23rd onwards com- 
pletely blockaded by the Second Adigar, who sent in a 
daily summons to surrender, with promises of peaceful 
evacuation, transport of the sick, and similar temptations. 
Ensign Grant of the Malay regiment, who held the post, 
had no more than fourteen convalescent men of the 
Nineteenth and twenty-two invalid Malays ; but though 
himself so enfeebled by ill-health that he could hardly 
walk, he refused to hear of terms of surrender. He 
June 30. was reinforced on the 30th by a detachment of sixty 


1 S7 

men which had been designed to escort coolies to Kandy ; 1803 
but their ammunition was soon exhausted, and the 
little garrison defied its enemy with the bayonet only, 
until brought off by a party of one hundred men on 
the 2nd of July. The relieving force had to storm July 
more than one battery during its advance ; but this 
was not a dangerous service, for the Kandians were too 
cowardly to stand for a moment after they had once 
fired their guns. Never was there a more miserable 
enemy than that to which Davie had surrendered. 

However, the fact remained that the Kandians had 
now taken the offensive, and that through pestilence, 
massacre, desertion, and general mismanagement, there 
were very few troops with which to repel them. In 
fact the European infantry in Ceylon was reduced to 
little more than six hundred, and the native infantry to 
fewer than three hundred bayonets. North therefore 
sent urgent messages to Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta 
for reinforcements, which request was not the more 
welcome for arriving just when Arthur Wellesley was 
opening his campaign. That General bluntly character- 
ised the whole of the proceedings at Kandy as dis- 
graceful folly ; 1 and Lord Wellesley seems to have 
sent no answer. Governor Duncan, on the other hand, 
appears to have been really anxious to oblige North, 
probably with the object of disobliging Arthur Wellesley. 
But the danger of Ceylon upon a renewal of the war 
with France, which though not known was expected 
in India, made it impossible to refuse all help. Lord 
Clive therefore prepared to send at once from Madras 
two hundred of the Thirty-fourth Foot, and five 
hundred native infantry known as the Bengal Volun- 
teers. North, meanwhile, in despair over the mortality 
in the native regiments from jungle fever, began to 
buy African slaves, in order to form a corps on the 
model of those which had been so successful in the 
West Indies. Thus in Ceylon there was witnessed the 

1 North to Sec. of State, 31st August 1803 ; Wellington Desp. 
(ii. 143, 165). 

158 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1803. extraordinary spectacle of a military establishment ' 

numbering less than two thousand men, but including 1 

British, Bengalis, Madrasis, Cingalese, Malays, and ' 

Africans ; and all to repel an enemy of which two i 

thousand would hardly have faced one hundred British i 
soldiers in the open field. 

However, the King of Kandy, elated by his success, 

now sent emissaries to all quarters to detach the native 1 

subjects of the British from their allegiance ; and by 1 

the end of July he had massed large forces at various 1 
points on the frontier to second any rebellious rising. 

The sphere entrusted to the First Adigar was the district t 

of Matura, at the extreme south of the island ; while I 

the King formed the ambitious design of marching on 1 

Aug. 13. Colombo itself. On the 13th of August intelligence of t 

the renewal of war with France reached Ceylon ; and f 

a few days later the Adigar advanced within twenty I 

miles of Matura, the rebellious inhabitants meanwhile I 

severing communication between that place and Galle. s 

The commandant at Matura was seized with panic, and t 

was about to withdraw to Galle, when North sent round la 

a small reinforcement by sea, and an officer to supersede 1 

the nervous leader. The threatened «iishap was thus \ 

averted. A little activity soon sufficed to drive the I 

Kandians back and to restore order among the in- 1 

habitants in this quarter. Nor was the King's invasion \ 

Aug. 21. much more successful. On the 21st of August his c 

bands occupied the little fort of Hangwell, about twenty \ 

miles east of Colombo, and even advanced five miles 1 

nearer to the town ; but the place was easily retaken and j 

Aug. 27. the invaders driven back with some loss. Another raid : 

upon the ruined fort of Chilaw, on the west coast to the 1 

north of Colombo, was as futile, for two young civil I 

servants and twenty-five Sepoys contrived to hold the t 

miserable post against an immense number of Kandians I 

for twenty-four hours, until relieved. Finally a second 1 
grand attack upon Hangwell delivered by the flower of 
the Kandian army under the King in person was beaten 
off with very heavy loss by a garrison of fifty Europeans 



and about thrice as many native troops. The casualties 1803. 
of the British on this occasion were two men wounded ; Au S- 
those of the enemy were known to have exceeded two 
hundred and seventy killed ; but the most welcome 
result of the victory was the recapture of the lascars of 
the East India Company's artillery, who had been made 
prisoners after Davie's surrender. Another week saw 
the whole of the district cleared of the enemy ; and 
though in September the Kandians made a raid upon Sept. 
Batticaloa, the invasion for the moment came to an end. 

In October the First Adigar reappeared on the fron- Oct. 
tier as if to make an inroad upon the district of SafFragam ; 
but North, having received his reinforcements from 
India, to which Clive had added three hundred men of 
the Tenth Foot 1 over and above the forces already 
promised, now initiated a new system of counter-raids 
by small detachments upon Kandian territory. These 
little columns, which rarely numbered one hundred men, 
simply hunted the unfortunate inhabitants away from 
their homes, burned their houses, destroyed their crops, 
and cut down their most valuable trees. The service 
meant much fatigue though little danger to the troops, 
but since it left them free to plunder and destroy, was 
by no means unpopular. North was much elated by 
the successes of these columns, and wrote home that he 
hoped to open a decisive campaign in July 1804, 
capture the First Adigar, depose the King, and annex 
Kandy. General Macdowall went home at the end of 
1803; and was replaced in March 1804 by Major- 1804. 
general Wemyss, who entered warmly into North's 
projects, and cheered on the troops against their 
unfortunate victims with a zeal worthy of a better cause. 
North then conceived the extraordinary idea of com- 
bining with his incursions a general blockade of the 
Kandian territories, so as to cut off their supplies of salt, 
and put an end to all commerce ; hoping that the people 
would thereby be incensed against the King and depose 
him. He accordingly divided his three thousand troops 

1 These were drafted into the Nineteenth and Fifty-first. 

160 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xm 

1804. into minute fractions, with the fond expectation that 

by so doing he could close a frontier of some seven 1 

hundred miles. Wemyss made no attempt to undeceive i 

him ; indeed it seems rather that he fully shared the i 

imbecility of North ; and thus the British troops were ] 

urged on still further in their career of demoralisation. 1 ] 

Upon the news of the first disasters at Kandy Lord 1 
Hobart wrote drily in March 1804 that he refrained 

from all comment, but would send reinforcements, t 

These, however, did not arrive until September ; and c 

meanwhile a sickly season wrought havoc among the 1 

July. British soldiers. Thus when July came and the question s 

of transport -coolies with other kindred difficulties v 

required to be faced, North decided to abandon the I 

decisive campaign, and to maintain what he was pleased b 

to call his blockade. So fully did he believe in its } 

efficacy and in the reports of the sufferings of the ti 

Kandians under it, that he made condescending offers ai 

to grant them peace if the King were deposed and the C 

authors of the massacre punished. The whole of these e 

overtures were rejected with scorn, for as a matter of 1 

fact the Kandians were none the worse for the blockade, Ji 

though the villagers were incensed t<* madness by the ii 

devastation of their fields and the shooting down of ir 

their fathers and brothers. North, however, so reported « 

these predatory chases as to make them appear great I 

operations. This, unfortunately, as a rule, they were m 

not ; but one exception must be mentioned. The n 

officer in command at Batticaloa misunderstood the i 
order countermanding the general attack upon Kandy, 
and boldly led his column, consisting of sixty men of 
the Nineteenth and two hundred native troops, straight 
upon the capital by a new and untried route. He 
reached it after a march of nearly two hundred miles, 
without the loss of a man ; but waiting for some days 
for the remaining columns to come up, he found his 
retreat cut off by large bodies of Kandians. Without 
hesitation, he attacked and forced his way through ; nor 
1 North to Hobart, 3rd March 1804. 


would he have suffered much loss had not his ammuni- 1804. 
tion become exhausted, which caused a panic among 
his native troops and transport-coolies. Finally he 
returned safely to British territory with the loss of nine Oct. 1 
Europeans, sixty native soldiers, and seventy-six coolies 
killed and wounded. Contemptible though the enemy 
was, this was a creditable feat of courage and endurance. 1 
At length at the end of 1804 a letter written by 
the commanding officer of one of North's predatory 
columns found its way to the hands of the Duke of 
York, who sent it to the Colonial Office, asking if these 
stories of destroying paddy-fields and shooting villagers 
were true, since in his opinion they were very disgraceful 
to the British arms. Several months necessarily elapsed 
before the question could be passed on to Governor 
North; and meanwhile in February 1805 an exceedingly 1805. 
trivial matter encouraged the Kandians to renewed 
aggression. General Wemyss and the Puisne Judges of 
Ceylon fell at variance about a minute point in which 
each party conceived that its dignity was concerned. 
The General behaved with extreme foolishness, the 
Judges with ridiculous conceit ; and the Judges eventu- 
ally haled the General before them while he was 
immersed in the business of directing the blockading 
columns, and bound him over to keep the peace. The 
Kandians, hearing of the quarrel, seized the moment to 
make simultaneous attacks in every direction. They 
were of course repelled ; and their rashness brought upon 
them the usual reprisals of death and devastation until 
July. Nor would their punishment have ceased even 
then, had not North resigned the government from ill- 
health ; when the British Ministers, suspecting that all 
might not be right about this war, sent out General 
Thomas Maitland to succeed him. 2 

1 North to the Sec. of State, 25th May, 25th, 30th Sept. 1804, 
I'th Jan. 1805. 

2 Colonel Gordon to the Colonial Office, 15 th Nov. 1804; 
^orth to the Sec. of State, 8th, 21st Feb., nth March, 13th April, 
loth July ; Sec. of State to North, 21st Feb. 1805 ; Colonel Wemyss 
.0 Colonial Office, 14th Feb., 10th March 1805. 


162 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xm 

Maitland arrived on the 17th of July, and quickly 
realised the situation. Overtures for peace had been 
made by the Second Adigar in June, in consequence of 
the King of Kandy being stricken with small-pox, which 
was interpreted as a mark of the divine displeasure ; but 
these were as little genuine as any of the previous 
proposals. Maitland resolved to wait for a few weeks 
in case the King should feel disposed to open negotia- 
tions with a new Governor, being determined, in the 
contrary event, to take the initiative himself. He 
did not ostensibly discontinue preparations to meet 
further aggression, but he was resolved to make no 
further offensive movement from his side ; and he 
issued a stern order to forbid the cruel and useless 
burning and plundering with which North had indulged 
his columns. It was none too soon, for the troops were 
already thoroughly demoralised. Owing to the laxity 
and incompetence of Wemyss, and indeed not of , 
Wemyss only but of the entire administration both i 
civil and military, public money had been issued 2 
lavishly to every subaltern in command of twenty ( 
men who chose to ask for it ; and the result was an l 
enormous military establishment, scandalous waste, and j 
great financial distress in the Colony. All this Maitland f 
brought summarily to an end with a strong hand. The (( 
Sepoy regiments he condemned as useless, the Malays j 
as both useless and dangerous ; and he marked out < a 
both for speedy disbandment. But above all he r 
deplored the condition of the British regiments. They 
were lamentably weak in numbers, for the service in r 
tiny detachments had killed many by useless fatigue, 
and enervated the rest by giving them unlimited oppor- r . 
tunities to drink. Their discipline also was very seriously .:. 
impaired. The Nineteenth, which had been, by ;,' 
Maitland's own testimony, one of the finest regiments ; 
in the Service, had lost all sense of subordination ; . 
and the General only checked the evil by trying the : 
Major and a Captain by court-martial and cashiering; 
the Major. By this timely severity and by massing thq : 


troops in two divisions only, at Trincomalee and 1805. 
Colombo, order was presently restored, and the men 
regained the good tone and the discipline that they 
had lost. 

Meanwhile, owing to the withdrawal of the British 
raiding columns, the war died a natural death. " I 
want peace," wrote Maitland, u first in order to regain 
our prisoners, and secondly to enable Ministers to tell 
Parliament that there is peace. In point of security we 
are just as well off as though peace were signed." 
Here Maitland's experience as a member of the House 
of Commons stood him in good stead ; but, notwith- 
standing all possible moderation in his proposals, he 
was unable to persuade the powers at Kandy to enter 
upon any formal discussion of a treaty. He therefore 
set secret agencies to work in the hope of aiding the 
prisoners to escape, and contrived not only that letters 
should be conveyed to Major Davie, but that his 
answer should be safely brought to hand. That 
answer told a miserable story. " I, Davie, am the 
only prisoner left," so it ran, " the rest are all dead, 
murdered, or starved. I am without meat or clothes. 
I expect not to survive many days. Do not tell my 
friends that I am alive." Then followed advice as 
to the conduct of an expedition to Kandy, with a 
plan for his escape, and near the end the ominous 
sentence, "I am told that I am to be murdered when 
my countrymen come to Kandy." 

Maitland's schemes for the captive's escape, though he 
spared neither pains nor money to make them successful, 
proved abortive ; and for months and years no more 
was heard of the unfortunate Davie. At home a 
piteous petition came from his mother, praying for 
payment of his allowances to herself ; for she had 
six daughters, three of them still unmarried, and 
no means of support but her son's little estate near 
Edinburgh, which hungry creditors were threaten- 
ling to seize. In Ceylon, in the year 18 12, when 
I Maitland had left the island and a new General had 

1 64 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xm 

1805. come to take his place, there arrived at Colombo two 
ragged scraps of native paper, bearing a few faint and 
scarcely legible lines scrawled in pencil by a feeble 
and exhausted hand. 1 These pitiful fragments, which 
may still be seen deeply buried among the pompous 
folios of official despatches, were the last sign that any 
white man saw of Davie. Maitland's agents soon 
afterwards reported that he had died at length of 
dysentery and had been buried secretly in the jungle. 
If his weakness on his march out of Kandy was 
culpable, assuredly he atoned for his fault by such 
a penance as is laid upon few men ; for he languished 
a prisoner for years within one hundred miles of British 
regiments, which practically on any day could have 
marched up to deliver him. Yet Thomas Maitland 
did his duty when he refused to move a man to 
save him ; for it was more important that there should 
be peace in Ceylon even than that murdered English- 
men should be avenged. While Davie was yet living, 
Maitland, as shall in place be told, was summoned 

1 Here is the full text. 

_ "August 18 1 1. 

" Gen. Wilson — Oh be expeditious in saving me. Is there any 
question that my wishes are to be released hence without delay ? 
I have no means to propose than those formerly mentioned. I have 
wrote several times within these 10 months and have got three 
small slips of paper without signature. Messenger is of no use 
being in [sic) daily sick unto death without money, clothes, or food ; 
please send me a little opium or laudanum to alleviate my pains ; 
expect to die daily ; could be carried by dooly by way of Gambo 
and Ganda. [Here follow illegible scraps about mohurs and rupees.] 
If you no intentions {sic) of speedily doing something send me a 
pair of pistols to terminate my painful existence, twelve months 
unable to rise from mat [illegible] a pen-knife, a little rum, gin, or 
brandy and laudanum, stopping at Kalug [illegible] and when night 
falls sending a party with a dooly might get out of the country 
[illegible] distance without a shot being fired at as my anguish 
[illegible]. (signed) 

"Ad. Davie." 

Second scrap about 4^x2 inches. 

" My anguish of body is insupportable, and I see but imperfectly 
my dear friend. No paper. My complaints are [illegible]." 


to reinforce the Indian Army at a moment of supreme 1805. 
danger, and was able to answer to the call. 1 

So ended this forgotten episode of the Great War, 
an episode which perhaps may be thought undeserving 
of the space that has been allotted to it. Yet it came 
at a most critical time alike for England and for India, 
when both were required to send to Ceylon regiments 
which could ill be spared, and both , made shift to 
despatch them ; and to India this might well have been 
of most serious consequence. The losses in action 
were trifling ; yet this futile enterprise, thoughtlessly 
undertaken and thoughtlessly carried out, must have 
cost the lives, directly or indirectly, of little fewer than 
a thousand British soldiers and of fully as many natives, 
and that at a moment when every soldier's life was 
precious. The arrival of a French armament before 
Ceylon in 1805 — and North was warned that one was 
likely to appear in August — would have found the 
British troops thinned, worn out, and demoralised ;i while 
the capture of Trincomalee would have so heartened 
the Mahrattas and their allies that they might have 
gone near to sweep the British out of India. None of 
these things occurred, and the Kandian war of 1 803 to 
1805 has been utterly forgotten ; but it may serve at 
least as a warning of the mischief that may be done 
by a foolish Governor seconded by a foolish General. 

It is idle to rail at the treachery of the Kandians, 
and to exalt the good faith and virtuous intentions of 
the British. Independence is as dear to primitive races 
as to the most highly civilised nation. Deceit is the 
natural resource of the weak against the strong, and 
duplicity has nowhere been carried to such perfection 
of art as in the East. The story of Kandy is one that 
will be frequently repeated in this history, the story of 
a column which marches to an oriental capital with easy 
triumph, and returns not again. Usually the destruc- 

1 Maitland to the Sec. of State, 19th, 28th July ; 4th, 18th, 19th 
Aug. ; 19th, 28th Oct ; 22nd Nov. 1805 ; 28th Feb. ; 20th Sept. 



tion of the first column is followed immediately by the 
advance of a second ; but it was not so in Ceylon in 
1803. The tattered scraps which record Davie's agony 
are the crown of the whole enterprise ; and it is a 
crown of thorns. No long time was, however, to elapse 
before the Kings of Kandy should cease to be, and 
their historic throne should find a new home in 
Windsor Castle. 

The authorities for this account of the Kandian war are : 
Colonial Correspondence, Ceylon, vols, vii.-xxiv. ; and Cordiner's 
Description of Ceylon, vol. ii. The latter is based principally upon 
official papers, supplemented by private inquiries by the author, 
and bears strong marks of having been inspired by Governor North. 


From the troubles in the East, which it has been J802. 
necessary to follow by anticipation until far into the 
renewed contest against Napoleon, I return now to 
England, which we left enjoying the hope rather than the 
fruition of peace in March 1802. It was somewhat 
significant that within three weeks of the signature of the 
Treaty of Amiens the Government thought it necessary 
to introduce a bill to consolidate the militia-laws and 
augment the Militia. " The benefits of peace," said 
Mr. Secretary Yorke, when proposing the measure, 
" can only be derived from placing the country in a 
proper position of defence," an eternal truth which for 
once was accepted by the House of Commons, thanks 
to the national dread of Bonaparte and the military 
organisation of France. The establishment of Militia 
was fixed by this Act at seventy-two thousand men for 
Great Britain ; forty-nine thousand of whom were to 
be at once enrolled for twenty-one days' training, and 
the remainder to be called up in case of emergency by 
proclamation. The bill, of which more shall presently 
be said, was passed without opposition, rather indeed 
with the approval of all parties ; and the fact was 
extremely significant. It is true that many prominent 
members, and notably Fox, were absent from Parliament, 
being attracted by very pardonable curiosity to the 
court of the First Consul at Paris. But no one felt any 
confidence that peace could endure for long ; and hence 
this unique acceptance of the proposition that, in the 
event of war, England ought to be able to lay her hands 




1802. at once on one hundred thousand men for purposes of 
defence. 1 

May 4. Not many days later a bill was brought in to enable 
the country to accept an offer from certain corps of 
Yeomanry and Volunteers to continue their service ; 
and on this occasion a gentleman was found to protest 
against the maintenance of such an establishment, " when 
the country was in a state of profound tranquillity," as 
" adverse to the ancient constitutional practice of the 
realm." The unfortunate British Constitution has 
been invoked as the protectress of many foolish senti- 
ments, but rarely of an opinion quite so foolish as this. 
However, the voice of this objector passed unheeded, 
for the times were too serious for the pastime of 
pedantry ; and without further examination at present 
into its provisions, it must suffice to say that the bill 
was passed. New estimates were shortly afterwards 
introduced for the Army ; and for the first time in 
history the regiments were designated to the House of 
Commons by their numbers as well as by the names of 
their Colonels ; a welcome change, which, slight though 
it was, signified that the proprietary rights of Colonels 
were beginning to lose their primeval sacredness. The 
establishment was fixed at rather over seventy thousand 
men for the United Kingdom, over twenty-five thousand, 
including six West India Regiments, for the Colonies, 
and over twenty-six thousand for India ; which, added 
to ten thousand artillerymen, made a total of over one 
hundred and thirty-two thousand men. The regiments 
of cavalry included, besides the Household regiments 
and those of Dragoon Guards, twenty-three regiments 
of Dragoons, the three last being those which we have 
seen fighting with such distinction in India. Among 
the infantry neither the Ninetieth, the Ninety-second, 
nor the Ninety-third found a place, the order for their 
disbandment having gone forth on the 6th of May ; 
but the Scots Brigade still bore prophetically the 
number Ninety-four, and Manningham's Rifles, at a 

1 Pari. Hist, xxxvi. 535 sq. HISTORY OF THE ARMY 169 

ridiculously low strength, were still at hand to claim 1802. 
that of Ninety-five. Fencible corps had received their 
death-warrant at the same time as the Ninetieth ; and 
second battalions were passed or passing into the first 
battalions of their own or of other regiments. But 
these estimates were calculated to be valid only from 
June to December ; and many things were to happen 
before December. 

As has already been told, the first alarm to the 
Ministry was given by Bonaparte's expedition to St. 
Domingo. But Bonaparte, unfortunately for himself, 
had always a new project upon the stocks before the 
first was fairly launched. Now, in the negotiations 
at Amiens the King of Sardinia had been one of the 
potentates for whom the British envoy had made special 
efforts, in the hope of gaining for him some indemnity 
for the territory which the French had taken from him in 
Italy and merged in the Italian Republic. On the 21st Sept. 
of September 1802 Bonaparte by formal decree annexed 
Piedmont to France, thus reducing the dominions of 
the King to the island from which he took his title. 
Valid excuse for this proceeding there was none ; but 
there was a sufficiently valid reason in that the possession 
of Piedmont assured that of the pass of Mont Cenis. 
A month later, upon the death of the Duke of Parma, 
his duchy was likewise annexed to France, though 
Bonaparte had raised the legitimate heir to the rank of 
King of Etruria, and had thereby gained from Spain the 
vast province of Louisiana. Finally the First Consul 
laid violent hands on a country which appealed far 
more than Piedmont or Parma to the sympathy of the 
British of all parties. Ever since the first interference 
of the Directory with Switzerland in 1798, that 
unhappy land had been impoverished and oppressed by 
the presence of large bodies of French troops. Its 
independence, and its right as the Helvetian republic 
to decide upon its own form of government, had been 
guaranteed by the Treaty of Luneville ; but still the 
French battalions remained in their old quarters and 



1802, showed particular reluctance to loosen their hold upon 
Swiss ground. The result was that the unfortunate 
people were unable to arrive by any peaceful process at 
a decision regarding the government which they really 
required. There were two parties in the country, of 
which the one favoured a strong centralised adminis- 
tration, and the other the retention of large independent 
powers by each canton. This latter had, for very good 
reasons, been the system of the old Swiss Confederacy. 
But, as fast as one party came into power, the French 
authorities after a few months arranged or connived at 
a revolution to displace it, so as to keep the country in 
continual commotion and afford constant pretexts for 
the intervention of Bonaparte. The truth was that his 
heart was set upon gaining possession of Valais in order 
to construct a military road over the Simplon pass ; 
and until he could obtain this he was not disposed to 
relax his grip upon Switzerland. At length in July he 
was prevailed upon to withdraw his troops, and to leave 
the country to determine for itself the form of its 
government. The issue was submitted to the vote of 
the whole body of the people ; and the majority 
against centralisation was so great as te» leave no room 
for further doubt. None the less the minority refused 
to accept their defeat, whereupon their opponents 
rushed to arms, and were in mid career of a victorious 
enforcement of their vote at the polls, when Bonaparte 
Sept. 30. suddenly interfered. His troops once again crossed 
the frontier ; and he declared that the new Constitution 
of Switzerland must be arranged at Paris under his 

So shameless a violation of the Treaty of Luneville 
naturally caused agitation at every court in Europe ; 
but the excitement was short-lived. Prussia, in 
the hope of gaining further territory in Germany, 
was too abjectly subservient to the First Consul 
to protest. Austria was too jealous of Prussia to 
think of Switzerland ; Russia showed indifference ; 
and England alone stood out heartily for the cause of HISTORY OF THE ARMY 171 

Swiss independence. So seriously did Addington's 1 
Ministry treat the question that vessels were at once 
despatched to the West Indies, the East Indies, and 
the Cape to cancel, until further directions, the orders 
for the restitution of the Dutch and French colonies ; 
and, as has been seen, Pondicherry and Chandernagore 
were still in the hands of the British when the war was 
renewed. But, finding themselves unsupported by 
other powers, the British Ministers gave way about 
Switzerland ; and fresh commands were issued for the 
redelivery of the French and Dutch colonies to their 
former masters. Bonaparte then regulated the new 
Constitution of Switzerland according to his own 
ideas, which were calculated, as a Swiss patriot com- 
plained, to assure to the country all domestic happi- 
ness, but to annihilate it as a political factor in 

The Swiss difficulty was only one of a series which 
were beginning to arise between England and France. 
French troops still continued to occupy Holland, though 
nominally the Batavian Republic was independent ; and 
this was a matter upon which the British were peculiarly 
sensitive. Moreover, commercial relations between the 
two countries were strained ; for Bonaparte, less perhaps 
from unfriendliness than from extreme ignorance of 
everything pertaining to trade, had determined to shut 
out British goods from all markets controlled by France. 
Remonstrance from England upon any one of these 
matters was met at once on the part of the First 
Consul by the demand that the British should evacuate 
Malta. But on this point the Ministry stood firm. 
It had been weak enough to restore its conquests in the 
New World even in the face of Bonaparte's high-handed 
proceedings in Europe ; but the experience of the last 
war had shewn that, under existing conditions, the 
Mediterranean was the true field of operations for Eng- 
land against France ; and Addington was not disposed 
lightly to yield up Malta. In fact Lord Whitworth, 
our ambassador in Paris, held instructions which 

172 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xm 

1802. empowered him practically to claim Malta as indemnity 
for the various annexations of France. 

All this, however, was hidden from the country at 
large, or at any rate Ministers seemed to think so. A 
new Parliament met in November, and was opened by a 
speech from the Throne so colourless that no one, on 
reading it, could have guessed that England had not 
for years been living in a state of profound peace. 
Grenville in the Lords and Windham in the Commons, 
as became men who had disapproved the Peace of 
Amiens, did indeed call attention to Bonaparte's 
proceedings in the bitterest terms ; but Pitt was silent ; 
Fox, of course, took the opposite view ; and, after the 
effusion of a suitable volume of prose by Addington, 
the address of thanks was passed with little ceremony. 
When, however, the estimates came up for discussion 
in the first week of December, the case was different. 
For the Navy, Ministers had begun by proposing 
thirty thousand seamen. This number they suddenly 
increased to fifty thousand, alleging first that the 
additional twenty thousand would be wanted for a few 
months only, but finally asking for them as part of 
the establishment for the year. 1 Tlae estimates for 
the Army likewise testified to a certain uneasiness. 
The Secretary at War began by reciting at length 
the various forces of France, setting down their total 
at over nine hundred thousand men, after which he 
asked money for an establishment of over one hundred 
and forty-three thousand men ; sixty-six thousand 
of them for the United Kingdom, twenty-three thou- 
sand for India, forty-two thousand for the Colonies, 
and twelve thousand artillery. Of those detailed for 
service at home five thousand represented the men 
who had formerly been called Invalids, and had been 
organised into independent companies. They were now 
distributed into seven Garrison Battalions. Among the 
troops abroad were over three thousand foreigners, com- 
prehending the regiments, nominally Swiss, of Meuron, 
1 Pari. Hist, xxxvi. 1054. HISTORY OF THE ARMY 173 

Rohan and Watteville, together with Stuart's battalion, 1 
at first Minorquin but now composed chiefly of Germans, 
which had distinguished itself so greatly in Egypt. 
Lastly eight thousand volunteers, principally cavalry, 
had enrolled themselves for continued service in 
England, and nearly thrice that number in Ireland ; 
and altogether it was reckoned that the country could 
count upon two hundred thousand men, exclusive of 
the troops in India. 

It is satisfactory to be able to add that the Commons 
showed no backwardness to vote the money required of 
them. Bonaparte's treatment of Switzerland had so 
incensed all parties that even Sheridan gave his voice 
heartily for a large military force. Fox almost alone 
advocated a reduction, making light of any idea of 
invasion, and apparently contemplating with perfect 
serenity a disembarkation of Bonaparte in England 
with fifty thousand men, which he declared to be the 
largest possible army that could be conveyed across the 
Channel in the relative state of the forces of England 
and France. He even committed himself to the 
characteristic proposition that by maintaining twenty- 
five thousand men less, the country would shortly gain 
twenty-five million pounds more to apply to her defence 
against aggression. It is precisely from acting upon 
this fallacious opinion that England has built up her 
national debt. Fox must have known perfectly well 
that time as well as money is needed to produce trained 
and disciplined soldiers, and that no number of millions 
can abridge that time. Pitt took no part in the debate ; 
and, seeing that he had actually reduced the Army in 
1792, he was probably prudent to hold his peace when 
ten years later his great rival proposed to outdo that 
egregious blunder. 

Meanwhile at Paris matters were coming rapidly to 
a crisis. Since the publication of Sebastiani's menacing 
report as to Egypt, Lord Whitworth had been instructed 
to declare that England would not evacuate Malta 
until reassured as to Bonaparte's designs upon the 

174 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1803. valley of the Nile and the Ottoman Empire at large. 

Feb. 18. The First Consul thereupon took the occasion of a 
reception at the Tuileries to treat Whitworth to a 
torrent of menace and invective which lasted for nearly 
two hours. Such an outburst was ill-calculated to 
produce any great impression upon an English gentle- 
man, who was not to be intimidated, and was, perhaps, 
not ill-pleased to see how low so great and formidable 

Feb. 20. a man could abase himself. But two days later 
Bonaparte addressed an inflated message to his own 
Legislative Assemblies upon the state of the Republic, 
in which his threats were renewed. " In England," he 
said, " there are two parties that struggle for power ; one 
of them has made peace, the other has sworn implacable 
hatred to France. While this strife of parties continues, 
the Republic must take its measures of precaution. 
Half a million men must be and shall be ready to 
defend and avenge her. . . . England will never be 
able to draw other nations into new coalitions. . . . 
Alone England cannot stand up against France. " 
This, together with Whitworth's report of the scene 
at the Tuileries, roused the spirit of the British 
Ministers and still more that of the-JGng. On the 
Mar. 8. 8th of March a Royal message was brought down 
to both Houses setting forth the need for measures 
to countervail the preparations which were said to 
be going forward in the ports of France and Holland. 
As a matter of fact those preparations were as yet 
trifling ; 1 and Bonaparte's activity was more easily to 
be traced at home, where French spies and agents of 
disaffection had been freely dispersed both in England 
Mar. 9. and in Ireland. However, the message was met by 
an unanimous address of thanks from both Houses ; 
Fox carping but not opposing in the Commons, and 
Moira warmly supporting in the Lords. Bonaparte 
used this proceeding as a pretext for another violent 

Mar. 13. address to Whitworth, which was only cut short by the 
freezing silence of the Ambassador ; but the First 
1 Desbriere, Projets et tentatives de debarquement, iii. 6-8. HISTORY OF THE ARMY 175 

Consul did not deceive himself as to the true meaning 1803. 
of the situation, and sent a despatch-vessel in all haste Mar. 16. 
to divert Decaen's expedition from Pondicherry to 
Mauritius. He had made the enormous blunder of 
treating the Court of St. James's as if it had been the 
Court of Naples ; and the result was that the renewal 
of hostilities was not to await his good pleasure until 
October 1804, but was to be forced upon him at once, 
while his preparations were still incomplete, and his 
great West Indian expedition hopelessly compromised. 
The British Ministry made a last effort to come to an 
understanding ; but Bonaparte was so furious at the 
British retention of Malta, as a pledge for proper con- 
cessions from France, that no one durst broach the matter 
to him. He made a final attempt by a shallow device to 
gain time ; but Whitworth was not to be hoodwinked ; 
and on the 16th of May 1803 England declared war. May 16. 

The First Consul instantly retorted by an order that 
all Englishmen in France between the ages of eighteen 
and sixty should be detained as prisoners of war. The 
pretext for this decree, which condemned some ten 
thousand innocent men to indefinite detention and in 
many cases to ruin, was that two French merchantmen 
had been captured by British frigates before the 
declaration of hostilities. This, as was so frequent with 
Bonaparte's statements, was entirely and demonstrably 
false. There was no excuse for this outrageous action ; 
there was no reason for it except the spiteful rage of an 
ungovernable man who had been unable to have his 
own way. It is too often forgotten that Bonaparte the 
First Consul could be quite as mean and petty when 
thwarted as Bonaparte the captive of St. Helena. The 
result of the decree was that England entered upon the 
war not only with indignation but with intense and 
implacable hatred. 

Since the crisis in Switzerland, Ministers had 
suspended many of the reductions ordered in the 
Army. The disbandment of the Ninetieth, Ninety- 
second, and Ninety-third, as well as of the second 



1803. battalion of the Fifty-second, had been revoked between 
October and December 1802 ; and the last named was 
in January erected into a separate regiment and 
numbered the Ninety-sixth. The Cavalry and Guards 
had also been slightly augmented in March, so that 
preparations were far less backward than usual at the 
beginning of a war, and the Ministry could take the 
offensive at once. There was no doubt as to the 
quarter in which the first blow should be struck. In 
St. Domingo the French were barely holding their own 
against the negroes, and their chief support was the 
fleet under Admiral Latouche Treville which lay at 
Cap Francois. Before the French ships could escape, 
Admiral Duckworth had brought his squadron to 
blockade them, thus not only hemming in the ships 
but cutting off all supplies from the troops ashore. 
This was a serious matter, for, unless they have been 
grievously maligned, many of the French generals 
used the campaign simply as a means of enriching 
themselves by plunder and embezzlement. 1 The 
negroes welcomed the unexpected aid of the British 
exultingly ; and Duckworth's cruisers played havoc 
among the French transports and smaller men-of-war 
which were on the coast. A frigate with a General 
Morgan and five hundred French troops on board was 
the first capture ; and Morgan reported that the army 
and the fleet together had already lost sixty thousand 
men since the first invasion of the island. Within a 
week or two the Commandant of the French garrison 
at Leogane entreated the Captain of H.M.S. Racoon to 
take himself and his men on board as captives ; and he 
was refused only because the frigate, already encumbered 
by prisoners from a captured transport, could hold no 
more. Then the Duquesne, a French seventy-four, tried 
to escape from Cap Francois, but was taken ; though 
a more fortunate consort, the Duquay Trouin, together 
with a frigate, contrived to sail safely away. The 

1 Intercepted letter from Commissaire Ordonnateur Colbert to 
Rochambeau, enclosed in Nugent to Sec. of State, 20th May 1804. HISTORY OF THE ARMY 177 

garrison of Jeremie, driven from its post by the 1 
negroes, and not by negroes only but by some 
hundreds of Poles and Germans, deserters from the 
French army, surrendered to a British man-of-war, 
and was brought to Jamaica. Other detachments 
submitted to the like fate, and on the 30th of November M 
the garrison of Cap Francois yielded themselves to the 
British fleet as prisoners. By the end of the year 
nothing was left of the French army but a garrison, 
strictly blockaded by the English, in the town of St. 
Domingo itself. Of the soldiers and seamen by far the 
greater number were dead. Of the survivors seven 
thousand, including one thousand officers, were prisoners 
in Jamaica, where over five hundred Germans and Poles 
entered the ranks of the Sixtieth. Three hundred 
invalids, left behind in hospital at Cap Francois, were 
placed on board a ship and sent to the bottom by the 
negroes. A few soldiers escaped to America, and about 
eleven hundred to Havanna, where they were hospitably 
received by the Spaniards. But still misfortune dogged 
the poor wretches to the end. Eight hundred of these 
last sailed in four transports from Havanna to Carolina. 
One of these ships with four hundred men on board 
was captured by the escort of a British convoy ; two 
more were lost with every soul on board in the Bahama 
Keys, and one only was left to pursue her solitary course. 
As to the men-of-war, the greater number found their 
way as prizes to Port Royal, which was full of captured 
j vessels of all kinds ; and thus ignominiously ended 
:! Bonaparte's expedition to St. Domingo. 

History has been strangely silent as to this enter- 
prise, and yet surely it must be reckoned as one of the 
most disastrous ever recorded. It is probably within 
! the truth to say that it cost France forty thousand good 
i soldiers and sailors not disabled but dead ; but even so 
■this is not the most terrible part of the story. There 
are signs enough in the English archives alone to show 
that the conduct of the senior officers was infamous. 
* 4 Your predecessors," wrote Commissaire Colbert to 


i 7 8 


1803. Rochambeau on his arrival, "have committed atrocities 
which I cannot trust myself to speak of. Our 
magazines are empty. I show you 1 what we have 
legitimately consumed and what our generals have 
embezzled. Sarrazin and La Valette are governed 
only by the most cruel egoism and the most sordid 
avarice. . . . The Generals have done their best to 
oppress the people and make the soldier discontented. 
The officers and men are groaning under terrible misery 
and want. La Valette and the head of the Admini- 
stration think only of enriching themselves and giving 
favours to their Creole girls." Add to this that 
not only two educated mulattoes, one of whom had 
come out with Leclerc as a general of division, but 
several hundred white men, were driven by maltreat- 
ment to take sides with the brigands, and also that 
Rochambeau by his cruelties gained for himself the 
name of Robespierre, and we can form some idea of the 
degradation to which a French army could sink even 
under one of the greatest military administrators that 
ever lived. It may be pleaded that Napoleon, being in 
Paris, was not responsible. No doubt much of the 
rascality and embezzlement was kept Jjidden from him ; 
yet it was he who gave the tone for the deliberate and 
perfidious maltreatment of the blacks which was at the 
root of all the mischief ; and he cannot have been 
ignorant of the outrageous oppression practised by 
his generals. The like evils had flourished among 
British officers for a time during their occupation of 
St. Domingo, but never among the Generals ; and 
upon the first suspicion at home of such mischief, 
Simcoe and Maitland were sent out to restore order with 
a stern hand. Beyond doubt a little severity would 
speedily have recalled the French also to a sense of their 
duty ; for it would be absurd to suppose that originally 
they were in any way inferior to the British. Yet it is! 
certain that they sank far below the British in demoral-j 

1 Evidently the letter was accompanied by returns, which are! 
not now to be found. 



isation ; and that the British officers in Jamaica, who 1 
usually were glad to meet their gallant brethren of 
France, could not bring themselves to consort with the 
prisoners of St. Domingo. " Their generals as a rule," 
wrote General Nugent from Jamaica, " are a low 
ignorant set of people who talk of nothing but their 
own prowess and the supremacy of the Great Nation. 
. . . The incapacity and atrocious conduct of their 
chiefs in St. Domingo are proverbial." Yet these were 
the men sent out, with excellent soldiers under them, by 
Bonaparte ; and the fact is a very grave reflection upon 
either his honesty or his judgment. 1 

But it was not only to leeward that the British 
Ministers turned their eyes. Pitt's example was still 
before them, and the conquest of the French Windward 
islands promised to be easy, for on that side also 
Bonaparte's treacherous policy towards the negroes had 
borne fruit. Martinique, it is true, had been taken 
over from the British practically unchanged ; but when 
Richepanse came before Guadeloupe in April 1802 he 
found the two divisions of the island, Grande Terre 
and Basse Terre, each under the rule of a mulatto. In 
Grande Terre the French troops were received without 
opposition, but in Basse Terre they were defied, and for 
a time successfully. In truth the French force was so 
abominably ill-provided and equipped that Richepanse 
was forced to buy clothing and shoes wherever he could 
find them, and even to borrow ammunition from the 
British. However, by the end of May he had virtually 
crushed all resistance, though with the loss of about two 
thousand out of three thousand French troops, dead or 
disabled in action or by sickness. In fact it was mainly 
by the exertions of a corps of black troops under a chief 
named Pelage that Richepanse finally prevailed; yet 
no sooner had this force done its work than the French 
General ordered every man of it to be embarked and 

1 Col. Corres. Jamaica. Nugent to Sec. of State, 21st July, 
9th Sept., 8th Oct., 19th Nov., 19th, 21st, 25th Dec. 1803 ; 
14th Jan., 10th, nth March, 20th May, 10th June 1804. 

180 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xii 

1802. deported to Rattan, from whence there was e very- 
prospect that they would ultimately be shipped off to 
the mines on the Spanish Main. Before the hurri- 
cane season was ended Richepanse was dead of yellow 
fever ; but his successor, as was natural, steadily carried 
forward the disarmament of the negroes, regarding all 
black regiments as an accursed thing. He was really 
only trying to execute Bonaparte's avowed policy of 
re-establishing slavery. 1 

It was therefore tolerably certain that the French 
negroes would not take up arms with any great 
enthusiasm for their new commanders ; and, apart 
from this, the extreme aversion of the French 
authorities from black troops worked by a curious 
chain of circumstances greatly to their damage and to 
the profit of the British. In April 1802 the British 
islands were startled by the news that on the night of 
April 9; the 9th the Eighth West India Regiment at Dominica 
had risen in mutiny, and had murdered three of their 
officers and the whole of their white non-commissioned 
officers with shocking and hideous mutilation. The 
mutineers were quelled after a short pitched battle 
which cost them over one hundred casualties and their 
assailants nearly thirty killed and wounded. A court 
of inquiry was held, and it was discovered that the 
mutiny was due to an idea that the regiment was to be 
disbanded and the negroes sold as slaves ; the Governor, 
a certain Mr. Cochrane Johnston — who gained later an 
unpleasant notoriety — having employed the men in 
clearing the jungle off his estate, nominally for purposes 
of fortification, without giving them working pay. 
Such a practice was strictly contrary to the orders of 
the General in command, who knew the value of the 
the West India Regiments and desired nothing more 
strongly than to raise the self-respect of the black 
soldiers who composed them. Before the news of 
this mutiny could reach England, orders came from 

1 CO. Windward and Leeward Islands, General Trigge to Sec. 
of State, 17th, 24th, 30th May, nth June, 1st, 10th July 1802. HISTORY OF THE ARMY 181 

the Colonial Office for the West India Regiments 1802. 
to be reduced from twelve to six, upon the con- 
clusion of peace, by the simple process of disband- 
ment. The execution of these directions would, in 
the circumstances, have been dangerous, for it would 
have confirmed the general suspicions which had caused 
the outbreak in Dominica, and would probably have 
brought about a mutiny of the remaining regiments. 
With great good sense General Trigge had issued an 
order to reassure the negroes, directing that his 
own guard should always be formed from the two 
West India Regiments at headquarters ; and he resolved 
at any rate not to precipitate the disbandment. Still 
the position was difficult, for England was nominally 
at peace and the British public would certainly be 
clamouring for the reduction of establishments ; and it 
therefore occurred to Trigge, since one of the regiments 
had been raised in Martinique, to offer it to the French 
authorities, provided that the men were willing to take 
service with them. The answer, as might be expected, 
was an uncompromising rejection by the French of any 
such proposal ; and it was finally decided not to risk 
the danger of disbandment, but to draft the men of the 
last six West India Regiments into the first six, and to 
allow time to reduce their numbers. 1 

Hence it was that at the outbreak of the war the 1803. 
West India Regiments were still in fair strength ; while, 
owing to the delay in restoring the captured islands to 
the French, there was an unusually large force of white 
troops at disposal for work in the field. In April 
there were, in the Windward and Leeward Islands, not 
far from ten thousand men of all ranks and colours fit 
for duty, of whom between three and four thousand 
I could be spared for active operations. Nor was the 
British Government negligent in giving early warning 
that war was approaching, for General Grinfield, who 

1 Trigge to Sec. of State, 16th, 23rd, 30th April, 4th, 29th 
May, 13th June, 1st, 10th July; Grinfield to Sec. of State, 17th 
Sept. ; Sec. of State to Trigge, 6th May 1802. 



1803. had succeeded Trigge in the chief command, began to 
prepare for all emergencies before the end of April 1 803. 
By the beginning of June a rupture seemed so certain 
to the British in the West Indies that one of the British 
cruisers detained a French transport, which was carrying 
troops to Martinique, and sent her to Barbados. Grin- 
field also embarked six weeks' supplies for four thousand 
men, and Commodore Hood made every arrangement 
for the embarkation of the men themselves at twenty- 
four hours' notice. About the middle of the month 
arrived the news of the declaration of war, with orders 
for attack upon Martinique, St. Lucia, and Tobago, 
each or all of them. Grinfield at once summoned the 
June 20. Commodore, who arrived on the 17th of June; and 
on the 20th the fleet and transports got under way 
and made all sail to leeward. 

The British Ministry had been over -sanguine in 
expecting the conquest of Martinique, which, well- 
garrisoned as it was, required ten thousand men to 
master it ; but St. Lucia and Tobago were within the 
powers of Grinfield's force, and the former being the 
more important as a check on Fort Royal, was clearly 
marked out as his first object. He htd three thousanc 
excellent troops, 1 with at least two senior officers 
who were of more than ordinary ability. These 
were Thomas Pic ton, who was on his way home 
from Trinidad after enduring shameful persecution by 
certain malignant commissioners sent out from England, 
and Edward Pakenham, who was destined after a 
brilliant career to fall before New Orleans. By day- 

1 StafF. . . . 17 

2/ist 487I 

64th 744 

68th 765 

3rd W.I.R 714. 

Royal Artillery, with 14 field-guns and 16 siege-guns . 271 

Royal Military Artificers 80 

Black Pioneers ........ 71 

Total of all ranks . 3149 HISTORY OF THE ARMY 183 

break of the 21st the armament was off St. Lucia, and 1803. 
during the course of the day the greater part of the June 21. 
force was disembarked in Anse du Choc, the bay 
which lies immediately to the north of Castries. In 
the evening the enemy's outposts were driven in, and a 
summons was sent to the French commander on Morne 
Fortune. This officer, General Nogues, was very 
much inclined to surrender ; for the inhabitants of St. 
Lucia had welcomed the British with open arms. Indeed 
the Prefect and several officers actually entertained 
Grinfield and his staff at supper, not without friendly 
messages from the General himself. Duty, however, 
prevailed with Nogues, who finally returned an answer of 
defiance ; and at four o'clock on the morning of the 
22nd the British attacked the fortress in two columns June 22. 
under Brigadiers Prevost and Brereton, and carried it, 
despite a spirited resistance, in half an hour. The 
Royal Scots and Sixty-fourth bore the brunt of the 
work, Pakenham being wounded at the head of the 
latter ; but the fortifications were in too ruinous a 
condition to be very formidable, and the casualties did 
not exceed one hundred and thirty-eight. 1 The troops 
on both sides became very friendly directly after the 
surrender, and when the six hundred prisoners had 
been embarked for France, Nogues and a few of his 
officers gratefully accepted permission to retire to 
Martinique. Altogether the first contest in the new 
war was marked by the best of good feelings. 2 

Leaving General Brereton with the Sixty-eighth and 
three companies of negroes to hold St. Lucia, Grinfield 
sailed again on the 25th, and at daybreak on the 30th June 30. 
made Tobago. By five in the evening the troops were 
landed, when they at once marched straight upon the 
town. A dangerous defile on the way being found 

1 20 men killed, 9 officers and 109 men wounded. 
2/1 st, 9 men killed, 2 officers and 45 men wounded. 
64th, 6 „ „ 4 „ „ 34 „ „ 
3rdW.I.R., 2 „ „ 23 „ 

2 Sec. of State to Grinfield, 7th, 16th May; Grinfield to Sec. 
of State, 28th April, 9th, 10th, 20th, 22nd, 24th June 1803. 

i8 4 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xm 

1803. unguarded, Grinfield took the hint and at once sent 
June 30. a summons to General Cesar Berthier, who capitulated 
forthwith with the honours of war. Berthier had indeed 
no choice in the matter, for his garrison numbered but 
two hundred men, half of them sailors, while the whole 
of the population was hostile to him. He revealed, 
however, to Grinfield that his orders had been to 
fortify Man-of-War Bay thoroughly and to make the 
island a French naval depot, with a garrison of twelve 
hundred men. This plan, if fulfilled, would have 
placed Trinidad and the whole of the southern islands 
at his mercy. 

Eight companies of the Royal Scots and a company 
of negroes were left at Tobago ; and therewith 
Grinfield prudently returned to Barbados. The 
conquest of islands might be easy, but the supplying 
of garrisons in such a climate was a costly process, and 
might become still more costly if the French, with a 
powerful force at Martinique, should attempt reprisals. 
There was, of course, a British squadron to windward, 
and Commodore Hood was an active and zealous 
officer ; but his ships were not too many, and Antigua 
and Dominica lay invitingly close to -Guadeloupe and 
Martinique. Moreover, the Assembly of Antigua, 
with characteristic perversity, was declining to vote any 
money for its defence or to call out its militia ; and 
Grinfield, like other commanders in the West Indies 
before him, was beginning to discover the difficulties 
of guarding the precious sugar-islands. Ships passed 
in and out of their harbours, he knew not on what 
errand, and he had not the slightest power to stop them. 
The forts, though garrisoned by the King, were mostly 
Colonial property, and as such owned no master but the 
civil government. Signals were likewise under the 
domain of the Colonial authorities, and all flags of truce 
were claimed by the civil Governor as concerning him 
only. In fact all control was in civil hands, but all 
responsibility for protection against the enemy was 
thrown on military shoulders. Yet this was the sphere HISTORY OF THE ARMY 185 

and these were the conditions in which Pitt delighted to 1803. 
make war. 1 

Nor did Addington Jag behind his great master. 
Before Grinfield had been at Barbados a week there 
arrived fresh orders from England. Victor Hugues 
had recently visited the Dutch settlements on the main- July 20. 
land ; and the Dutch planters, dreading a repetition of 
the scenes which had troubled Guadeloupe in 1794, 
had appealed to England for protection. Ministers 
promised to afford it ; and accordingly on the 10th of 
June Lord Hobart instructed Grinfield to make 
immediate arrangements for taking over Demerara, 
Berbice, and Surinam, summoning the Governors to 
surrender and attacking them if they refused. Since 
the Batavian Republic was dragged into war against 
England a week later, the General was of course at 
liberty to attempt the capture of Curacoa also, if he 
thought fit. Grinfield, like all officers, was eager for 
active service ; but on receiving the first conditional 
orders for the expedition to the Dutch colonies, he 
very rightly pointed out to Ministers that they might 
not be aware what they were doing. St. Lucia and 
Tobago had already swallowed up nearly two thousand 
of his men ; and the occupation of Demerara in addition 
would not only deprive him of the whole of his ex- 
peditionary force but would leave all his garrisons 
dangerously weak. The Government had promised to 
send him one battalion from Gibraltar, and he had been 
able to save three hundred negroes from a regiment that 
had been doomed to disbandment ; but to make good 
the daily losses from sickness in the islands, quite apart 
from those sustained on active service, he would need 
reinforcements of at least five thousand men. 2 

All this the Government knew or should have known 
without Grinfield's information ; but it either ignored 

1 Grinfield to Sec. of State, 1st, 5th, 15th July, nth Aug. 

2 Sec. of State to Grinfield, 30th May, 10th, 16th June 1803 ; 
Grinfield to Sec. of State (private), 24th June 1803. 



1803. or defied these plain facts and committed itself, without 
hesitation, to a large permanent increase of the West 
Indian garrisons. The General waited over a month for 
his promised battalion from Gibraltar, but in vain ; the 
fact being that it had never received its orders to go to 
the West Indies. At last, at the end of August, he 
decided to eke out his force with Marines and to delay 
the attack on Demerara no longer, having ascertained 
with tolerable certainty that the Colony would make 
Sept. 1. no resistance. He sailed accordingly on the 1st of 
September with some thirteen hundred men, 1 and 
anchoring off Georgetown on the 16th, sent an offer of 
good terms which brought about the surrender of 

Sept. 20. Demerara and Essequibo. A detachment of five hundred 
and fifty men received the capitulation of Berbice a few 

Sept. 25. days later ; and thus three rich but pestilent posses- 
sions were gained not only with no loss, but with 
actual increase of the British force. For the Dutch 
garrisons numbered fifteen hundred men, half of whom, 
rather than starve, were well content to enter the British 
service, which they did under the name of the York 
Light Infantry Volunteers. 2 

With this the operations of 1803 iirthe West Indies 
came to an end. The deaths from sickness in the 
Windward and Leeward Islands during the last six 
months of 1803 numbered close upon seven hundred, 
or more than nine per cent of the force, though the 
season was by no means remarkably unhealthy. One 
of the Brigadiers, Clephane, died before he had been in 
the Antilles three months, and Grinfield had hardly 
reported this death before he too, with his work still 

Nov. 19. incomplete, succumbed to yellow fever. But the Govern- 
ment had not yet done with conquests. Early in 
November the Sixteenth and Forty-sixth regiments, 
both of them strong battalions, were ordered to the 

1 Artillery, 90 ; R. Military Artificers, 30 ; 64th, 983 ; detach- 
ments of the 3rd, 7th, and nth W.I.R., 208. Total 131 1 of all 

2 Grinfield to Sec. of State, 17th, 29th Aug., 22nd, 27th, 28th 
Sept., 1 6th Oct., 4th Nov. 1803. HISTORY OF THE ARMY 187 

West Indies; and though in January 1804 a sudden 1804. 

order was despatched from London that no further 

operations were to be undertaken, yet on the arrival of 

these two regiments and of a new Commander-in-chief, 

Sir Charles Green, towards the end of March, an expedi- March. 

tion was at once arranged for the capture of Surinam. 

The people of that settlement were believed to be 

friendly, but the secret of the project had been allowed 

to leak out, so that it was necessary to employ a large 

and imposing force. During the last weeks of March 

both Green and Commodore Hood worked strenuously 

at their preparations ; and on the 7th of April the April 7. 

armament, numbering over two thousand troops, 1 sailed 

before the trade wind from Barbados, and anchored on April 25. 

the 25th off the Surinam River. 2 

Paramaribo, the capital of Dutch Guiana and in those 
days a thriving town of twenty thousand inhabitants, 
lies about twenty miles up the Surinam. This great 
river, though swelled to a breadth of two or three miles 
at its mouth by the influx of a large tributary, the 
Commewyne, is full of banks and shoals, which render 
its navigation difficult. It was therefore by no 
means a formidable task to defend the passage, and, if 
the waterway were closed, effective entrance into the 

1 Advanced Corps. Flank companies of the 16th and 64th. 

Rifle companies 2/6oth and York L.I. Volrs. 
Light company 6th W.I.R. 
1st Brigade. Advanced corps, 493 \ Brig.-Gen. 

1 6th Foot, 57 3 J Fred Maitland. 
2nd Brigade. 64th Foot, 604^ . _ Q Hu?hes 

6thW.I.R., 30$ J e ' hughes. 
Royal Artillery . . . 106. 
Ordnance. 6 light six-pounders ^ 4. howitzers, in. 

2 „ three „ J4 „ „ light. 
2 medium twelve-pounders) 1 mortar, 8 inch. 
2 light twelve-pounders - J 2 mortars, 10 inch. • 
Royal Artificers, 26 ; Black Pioneers, 20 ; Staff, 21. 
lotai. 2148 of all ranks. 
2 Grinfield to Sec. of State, 4th, 9th Nov. ; Brig.-Gen. Fred 
Maitland to Sec. of State, 19th Nov. 1803 ; Green to Sec. of State, 
22nd March, 2nd April 1804; Sec. of State to Gen. Moncrieff, 
2nd Jan. 1804. 



804. Colony was practically impossible ; for the country, 
though a level plain, was marshy and overgrown with 
thick jungle for some distance inland from the sea. 
For defence of the river, therefore, the Dutch engineers 
had constructed a series of powerful works. The first 
of these was a battery of seven eighteen-pounders 
situated at Bram's Point, at the eastern side of the 
entrance to the river. Further up the stream stood Fort 
Amsterdam, mounting altogether eighty guns, which was 
placed on the southern bank of the Commewyne at the 
point of its confluence with the Surinam. Over against 
it to northward, and at about two thousand yards' 
distance on the opposite bank of the Commewyne, stood 
Fort Leyden, armed with twelve heavy guns ; and 
another work called Frederick's Battery, also of twelve 
heavy guns, lay about a mile below Fort Leyden. 
Nearly opposite to Fort Amsterdam, on the western 
bank of the Surinam, stood Fort Purmerend, containing 
ten heavy guns, and having its flanks and rear pro- 
tected by a marsh. Further up, and on the same bank, 
stood Fort Zeelandia, a battery of ten guns, for the 
immediate defence of Paramaribo. The whole of these 
works could bring a cross-fire to bear upon the one 
channel by which ships could ascend the river ; and 
the problem set to Green was to open a passage for 
the fleet in despite of them. 

1 26. On the 26th the Advanced Corps, augmented to 
six hundred rank and file by men of the Sixteenth, 
Sixty-fourth, and Sixth West India Regiment, and by 
one brigade (or, as we should now say, one battery) 
of light artillery, was detached on different ships under 
General Maitland's command to Warappa Creek, about 
thirty miles to east of the Surinam. Maitland's orders 
were to land, find communication by water with 
Commewyne Creek, collect boats enough from the 
various plantations to carry his troops down the 
Commewyne to its junction with the Surinam, take up 
a position in rear of Fort Amsterdam, and cut off" a 
strong detachment of the enemy which was stationed HISTORY OF THE ARMY 189 

in a less important work hard by. On the same day 1804. 
the men-of-war Pandora and Emerald engaged and 
silenced the fort at Brain's Point, whereupon a small 
party of the Sixty-fourth landed and took possession, 
capturing over forty of the garrison. The ships then 
entered the river, and Green sent a summons to the 
Governor to surrender. He was answered on the 
28th with defiance, and proceeded at once with the April 28. 
task before him. 

His chief difficulty was that, owing to the shallow- 
ness of the river, landing was everywhere difficult except 
at the top of the tide, and below Fort Frederick was 
almost impossible on account of the marshes and jungle 
on the banks. On the 28 th he tried to disembark a force 
for the capture of Fort Purmerend, but was completely 
foiled by the unfavourable state of the tide ; and it 
was not until the following day that he obtained April 29. 
information of a path which led through the woods 
upon the rear of Fort Leyden and Frederick's 
Battery. On that night between ten and eleven 
o'clock Brigadier-general Hughes with one hundred 
and eighty men, chiefly of the Sixty-fourth, besides a 
party of black pioneers carrying axes, landed quietly 
and entered the bush under the guidance of some native 
negroes. Heavy rain had rendered the path nearly 
impassable, and it was only after five hours of an 
intensely fatiguing march that the column at last 
approached the rear of Frederick's Battery. The alarm 
was given in the fort, and a heavy fire of grape was 
poured upon the men as they deployed, which was 
seconded by musketry as they advanced ; but they 
speedily entered the work and swept the enemy out 
with the bayonet. The fugitives fled to Fort Leyden, 
though not before they had kindled the powder-maga- 
zines, which presently exploded, killing and wounding 
many of the British. Hughes, however, quickly rally- 
ing his little force, pushed on to Fort Leyden along 
a narrow road which was enfiladed by the enemy's 
guns, and charging up to the Battery in face of a 

3 90 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xm 

1804. furious fire, captured over one hundred and twenty 
April 29. prisoners. Thus the defences of the eastern bank 
north of the Commewyne were secured, and with 
them a position from which Fort Amsterdam could 
be cannonaded and communication assured with Mait- 
land's detachment. 
April 30. The following day was employed in throwing up 
shelters in the captured works against the fire of 
Fort Amsterdam, which, however, was soon silenced 
when two British mortars were brought into play ; and 
on the same evening Green received intelligence that 
Maitland had accomplished his disembarkation suc- 
cessfully, having defeated a small party of the enemy 
which guarded the landing-place at Warappa Creek, and 
captured two guns. Accordingly in the course of the 
May 1, 2. next two days the bulk of the force that still remained 
upon the ships landed at Fort Leyden, and marched 
for some distance up the north bank of the Commewyne 
May 3. to await the arrival of Maitland. On the 3rd Maitland 
appeared, with his entire column afloat, passing 
comfortably down the Commewyne, as had been pre- 
arranged. He presently landed on the south bank ; 
and, his boats being thus released, Grain's troops were 
likewise transferred from the north to the south bank. 
The operation was not completed till the afternoon of 
May 4. the 4th, when Maitland advanced by a road through 
the jungle to within a mile of Fort Amsterdam, and 
drove in the enemy's advanced parties. Shortly 
afterwards a flag of truce reached Green, and on the 
May 5. following day Surinam was delivered over to him by 
capitulation. His casualties were trifling, as were also 
those of Commodore Hood, the total number of killed 
and wounded in Army and Navy not exceeding thirty, 
though of these no fewer than ten were officers. The 
enemy's force numbered about thirteen hundred white 
troops and four hundred negroes, besides the crews of 
two small men-of-war, which brought the full roll of 
the defenders up to two thousand men. With such 
strength, and with over two hundred and eighty guns of HISTORY OF THE ARMY 191 

one kind and another, the Dutch should have made a 1804. 
better resistance, but for the fact that their officers were 
divided among themselves. Ministers in England had 
supposed that the province would be delivered up at 
once by a people eager for protection ; but, as usual, 
not a man of the inhabitants would move to help the 
British until he saw that they were likely to be successful. 
Addington's Cabinet had made the old mistake, so 
often made by Pitt and Dundas between 1793 and 
1 801 ; and only by good fortune did it fail to be 
again disastrous. 

With Victor Hugues at Cayenne, Green judged it 
imprudent to leave fewer than fifteen hundred men to 
guard the new conquest ; though he was fortunate 
enough to enlist some hundreds of the Dutch soldiers 
into the British service. But none the less here was 
another hostage given to fortune, and another British 
battalion relegated to a distant station where the annual 
casualties by sickness and death could not be reckoned 
at less than one-third of the whole. Nor was this all ; 
for still earlier in 1804 England had only narrowly 
escaped being saddled with Curacoa as well as 
Surinam. Admiral Duckworth, without saying a 
word to General Nugent at Jamaica, had sailed in 
January to Curacoa with two line -of- battle ships, as 
many frigates, and a schooner, intent upon playing the 
general. Landing eight hundred men without artillery, 
he found himself powerless against a garrison of six 
hundred men within fortifications, failed to make the 
slightest impression upon the defences, and was fain 
to re-embark his men ignobly and sail away. Had he 
but communicated his ideas to the General, he would 
have received a few gunners and mortars, with which, 
as he himself acknowledged, he would have forced the 
Dutch to surrender in two or three days. Having, 
however, like most naval officers in those days, a keen 
and pardonable taste for prize-money, he tried to be 
soldier as well as sailor and, very fortunately for all 
parties, over-reached himself. But for Pitt's mistaken 



1804. policy during the last war, the gallant officer would 
have been less eager to capture sugar-islands without 
orders from the Cabinet. 

In truth Surinam, superadded to previous conquests, 
was already far too much. The Commander-in-chief to 
Windward naturally begged for reinforcements as soon 
as the Colony had fallen, sending a return which showed 
his entire force to be eleven thousand men, scattered 
over thirteen different islands and settlements, with a 
sick list, which he truly pronounced to be normal, of 
two thousand. In September the Secretary of State 
promised him two battalions ; " but," he added, " every 
soldier is imperatively needed to repel a possible invasion 
of England by France. ,, Nevertheless General Myers 
at Barbados and Commodore Hood still hankered after 
Curacoa, ostensibly as a station for the distribution of 
British manufactures in the Spanish Main. This was 
a plea likely to commend itself to British manufacturers 
and therefore to the Chancellor of the Exchequer ; but 
for once the British Government returned a decided and 
unmistakable negative. " Multiplication of garrisons," 
wrote the Minister for War, "weakens the whole of 
our islands." The comment was justythough it came 
a little late, after the West Indian garrisons had been 
multiplied by two through the orders of Ministers 
themselves. It is now time to return to England, and 
to examine the causes which had converted Addington's 
Ministry to principles so sound, so sober, and so 
novel. 1 

1 Green to Sec. of State, 13th May (2 letters) ; to Sullivan, 14th 
May; Myers to Sec. of State, 7th, 31st Aug.; Sec. of State to 
Myers, Nov. 1804. 


It has already been told that England's declaration of 1803. 
war came to Bonaparte as a surprise, his preparations 
being still altogether incomplete ; and in truth the 
weakness of France at sea in May 1803 was such as May. 
would have daunted many men. Forty-eight vessels, 
carrying each from eighty to ten guns, were at St. 
Domingo, of which number seven ships only were 
destined to escape capture or destruction by taking 
refuge in different ports of Spain. The whole, therefore, 
might be practically looked upon as lost. In March the 
French Admiralty reported that all the ports of France 
could in a month's time produce but five ships of the 
line and ten frigates ready for sea, and in six months' 
time no more than twenty-one ships of the line and 
nineteen frigates. In June matters had not improved. June. 
There were but three line-of-battle ships at Brest, all of 
them short of their complement of men, and as many 
more at Toulon. In such circumstances it is not 
astonishing that Bonaparte's first care was for the 
protection of his own coasts, and that he should have 
shown particular anxiety for the safety of the island of 
Walcheren as the gate of the Scheldt. But even for 
defence his maritime resources were dangerously small, 
for though nearly two hundred gunboats remained on 
the list of the French Navy, only twenty-seven of them 
were even tolerably sound. The naval impotence of 
France, as their own writers confess, was as great in 
1803 after three years of the Consulate, as in 1793 
after four years of revolution. 

VOL. V 193 o 

1 94 


1803. Powerless to strike at sea, Bonaparte lost no time 
in doing England such mischief as he could on land 
A few days before the declaration of war he began to 
concentrate his garrisons in Holland ; and on the 31st 

May 31. of May Mortier invaded Hanover at the head of 
twenty-five thousand men, brushed away such feeble 
opposition as was made to him, and on the 3rd of 

June 3. June took over the entire province under a convention 
The Hanoverian troops retired for the moment to the 
east of the Elbe, but were destined to avenge them- 
selves, as shall in due time be seen, in another land 
and under another name. The chief mischief wrought 
to England by this stroke was the shutting of the 
Elbe and the Weser to her trade ; but to Bonaparte 
the gain of the province was indirectly most valuable 
for he could use it, as he said, as a bone for Prussia to 
gnaw ; and, with such a prize to dangle before her 
he could be sure of attracting her to his side 
Simultaneously he called upon Spain for the help that 
she was bound to afford him under the Treaty of 
San Ildefonso, ordered Gouvion St. Cyr to invade 
Neapolitan territory and occupy Tarento, Otranto, and 
Brindisi, and directed Leghorn to«be placed under 
martial law. He also forbade the entry into the ports 
of France or her allies of all colonial produce coming 
directly from England or from any of her possessions 
If he could not meet the British fleet at sea, he would 
at least exclude British merchantmen from as many 
harbours as possible, especially in the Mediterranean 
while the occupation of the peninsula of Otranto served 
the additional purpose of threatening the Levant, the 
Morea, and Egypt. If he could not prevent England 
from foiling his colonial projects and sweeping the 
whole of the Antilles into her net, he would at any 
rate close against her every market that he could 
control, and so lay the foundation of the Continental 
System. 1 

But these measures, however formidable, wer 
1 Sorel, vi. 309. 


r 95 

secondary to a still vaster project which was ripening 1303. 
in his brain for more signal humiliation of the inveterate 
enemy. In March he had given orders for the creation 
of a flotilla of five hundred craft at Dunkirk and 
Cherbourg, the whole of which were to be ready by 
September ; and in June he compelled the Batavian 
Republic to provide ten ships of war, transports for 
twenty-five thousand men, one hundred gunboats, and 
two hundred and fifty flat-boats for a descent upon 
England. From Spain he claimed fifteen ships of 
the line besides smaller vessels, though finally after 
months of haggling he accepted a subsidy of ^240,000 
a month in their stead. From Hanover he required 
the construction of flat-bottomed boats in the Weser 
and the Elbe. From France herself he demanded 
that twenty ships should be fit for sea at Brest by 
the third week in November ; and, after many changes Aug. 2 
of plan, he decreed that two thousand small craft 
should likewise be constructed by the same date. 
On the 14th of June he had ordered the concentration 
of the Grand Army in six camps, one in Holland, and 
the rest at Ghent, St. Omer, Compiegne, St. Malo, and 
Bayonne ; and therewith his original design was, on 
paper, complete. The small craft for the conveyance 
of troops were one and all to be armed, with the 
object apparently of fighting their way through the 
British fleet, if necessary. One hundred and ten or 
twenty thousand men would be embarked on them ; 
they would slip across the Channel on some favourable 
night of fog and darkness during the winter ; a 
revolution would break out in London at the sight of 
the French Army, and England would become a 
vassal of France. 1 

Such was the project which from, the end of May 
onwards possessed the brain of Bonaparte. For the 
present it was, as we shall see, both wild and vague ; 
but possibly for that very reason it struck the greater 
alarm into the British Ministry. The First Lord of 
1 Sorel, vi. 310 ; Desbriere. 



1803. the Admiralty at this time was Lord St. Vincent, who, 
in the enthusiasm of an economic crusade against the 
corruption in the dockyards, had not only allowed 
artificers to be discharged and valuable material to be 
sold, but had omitted to replenish the stock of necessary 
stores. His instinct for strategic dispositions was as 
sound as ever ; and squadrons under renowned 
commanders were soon watching every one of the 
French naval arsenals. Nelson lay before Toulon ; 
Pellew shut in the fugitive vessels from St. Domingo 
at Ferrol ; Collingwood cruised off Rochefort ; Corn- 
wallis, a seaman unsurpassed in vigilance, nerve, and 
resolution, blockaded Brest. But the numbers of their 
ships were insufficient ; and Nelson complained bitterly, 
though to no purpose, that the majority of those under 
his command were unfit for sea. Looking to the 1 
contemptible strength of the French Navy at the 
outbreak of the war, an invasion of England may seem 
to us now a plan so hazardous as to be absurd ; but 
our ancestors may be forgiven if, with a Bonaparte on e 
the other side of the Channel, they wished to be ready a 
for any contingency. 

In virtue of the large establishment voted in 1802, 0 
and by the timely suspension of the disbandment of 
many condemned corps, the British Government had 
ready to its hand a regular army incomparably stronger 
and more efficient than had ever before been seen at 
the beginning of any war. Moreover, despite of St. 
Vincent's failure at the Admiralty, England's superiority 
at sea was overwhelming. Here, therefore, was an k 
opportunity, such as is not often afforded, for augment- i: 
ing the Regular Army to formidable strength by means b 
of the tens of thousands of men trained during the ; 
last war, and disconcerting the whole of Bonaparte's : 
plans by a vigorous offensive movement. The obvious 1 
sphere for such a movement was the Mediterranean. 
The French invasion of Calabria was of course a glaring j 
violation of the neutrality of the Kingdom of the Two 
Sicilies. The Court of Naples, though utterly corrupt . 



and inefficient, at least preferred British protection to 1803. 
the encroachments and menaces of Bonaparte. The 
Apulians hated the French invaders, and might easily be 
brought to turn against them savagely, both as individuals 
and in masses. Gouvion St. Cyr lay weak and isolated 
at the very heel of Italy, almost the remotest point to 
southward that could be reached by French troops. 
Thirty thousand British soldiers, or forty thousand if 
transport could be found for them, concentrated in 
Sicily, with their ships ready, would have stirred up 
dangerous unrest in the whole of the Peninsula. They 
would have compelled Bonaparte to drain men from 
France for reinforcement of the Italian garrisons, and 
would have constrained him either to double the 
strength of St. Cyr's corps, or to recall it altogether and 
to relieve Nelson from all anxiety as to the safety 
of the Levant, of Egypt, and of India. If Austria, 
later on, were drawn into hostilities, forty thousand 
British troops could give her most effective help on 
either flank of Italy ; while, on the other hand, such 
a force might well harden Spain in her reluctance to 
yield to Bonaparte's claims upon her under the Treaty 
of San Ildefonso. Italy, in fact, the scene of Bona- 
parte's triumphs, the acquisition that was dearest to 
his heart, was the sphere where a British fleet and 
a British army, under command of such a man as 
Moore, might have made a diversion that Bonaparte 
himself could not have ignored. 

But no such ideas occurred to Addington or to his 
colleagues. Dumouriez, whom they consulted late in 
the year, advocated an attack upon Walcheren and an 
expedition to Portugal as the best means of checking 
a descent upon Ireland, which he justly held to be the 
most vulnerable point in the Empire, Ministers may 
well have been justified in rejecting both projects ; but 
they were equally deaf to all the protests of Dumouriez 
against an inert defensive. 1 Their only notion was to 

1 Rose and Broadley's Dumouriez and the Defence of England, 
PP- 33 2 -337- 


1803. leave to Bonaparte all initiative, and suffer the strength 
of England to be paralysed by a menace from Boulogne. 
The only augmentation ordered for the army was an 
addition of eleven men to every troop of dragoons and 
of ten to every company of Guards ; and Mr. Yorke, 
June 6. the Secretary at War, when introducing the estimates 
took credit for the moderation of the increase. 
Ministers, in fact, were resolved to stand wholly on 
the defensive, except in the West Indies, and, moreover, 
considered the resolution to be exceedingly clever. 

The Militia Act of 1802 1 had been framed wholly 
with this view. It provided for raising by ballot, and 
by no other means, fifty -one thousand five hundred 
men between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, and 
at least five feet four inches in height, from all the 
parishes of Great Britain ; giving the King power, 
moreover, on menace of invasion or rebellion to 
augment that number by one-half on calling Parliament 
together within fourteen days. Any parish which 
failed to produce its quota of men was fined annually 
£10 for every man deficient. The men were to be 
trained for twenty-one days annually ; and enlistment 
from the Militia into the Regular Ari»y was positively 1; 
forbidden. They were to be chosen by ballot, and if 
they accepted the lot that fell upon them, were to serve 
for five years ; receiving from the parochial rates, if 
they were worth less than £500, a sum equal to half the 
cost of a substitute. Such men were at liberty to pro- 
long their service on giving notice four months before 
the expiration of their term, and stating the sum which 
they demanded for such prolongation. But there were j 
several ways whereby service in the Militia could be t 
evaded. In the first place, parishes could produce If 
parochial substitutes and levy a rate to purchase them, j| ; 
up to the price of £6 a head. In the second place, a | 
ballotted man, or to use the contemporary name, a |- 
lotman, could provide a personal substitute, towards the j| \ 
cost of which the parish gave him, if he were worth |i n 
1 42 Geo. III. caps. 90, 91. 



less than £500, half the current price of a substitute, 1802. 
such substitutes being required to be drawn from the 
" same or some adjoining county or place." And 
thirdly, he could purchase exemption for five years by 
the payment of £10. But whereas ballotted men, who 
accepted service, were enrolled for five years only and 
then released until their turn to be ballotted should 
come again in rotation, substitutes were retained until 
the disembodiment of the Militia, or, in other words, 
until the end of the war. All sergeants and drummers, 
again, were enlisted for life. Hence, unless the 
majority of the lotmen were ready to serve in person, 
which was contrary to all experience, Addington's 
Militia Act promised to lock up a vast number of 
men in the Militia, who would otherwise have enlisted 
in the Army. 

To this enactment the Ministry added another in 
the'same session of 1 802 for dealing with the Volunteers. 
The Volunteer Acts passed by Pitt during the late war 
had expired with the war ; and, in the uncertainty of 
the continuance of peace, the Government thought it 
expedient to enable such of the corps as were willing, to 
prolong their service. Now the Volunteers called into 
existence by Pitt had been established upon a totally 
false principle. They had been dependent mainly upon 
private subscriptions, and governed by committees of 
the subscribers, who were not necessarily officers ; and 
it was therefore extremely doubtful whether they were 
commanded by their titular commanding officers or by 
their committees. Jealousy and self-importance had 
prompted a vast majority of the corps to organise 
themselves into small and insignificant units, so that 
they might reserve to themselves the greater indepen- 
dence, and indulge to the utmost their peculiar ideas and 
idiosyncrasies. They were subject to no discipline 
excepting their own rules, which could only be enforced 
by public opinion. They were, therefore, practically 
under no control ; and as an inevitable consequence, 
they were for the most part utterly useless. Here, 



802. therefore, was an opportunity for reconstituting them 
upon some sounder basis, if they were to be revived at 
all ; but Lord Hobart who, though Secretary of State 
for War, had for some reason taken over the charge of 
the Volunteers from the Home Secretary, was far too 
incapable to think of any such thing. Hence the 
Volunteer Act of 1802, without attempting to remedy 
a single defect, simply empowered the King to accept 
any offers from Yeomanry and Volunteer corps to 
prolong their service, and, in return, guaranteed such 
corps exemption from the Militia ballot in consideration 
of their undergoing five days' exercise annually. 

A fair number of corps accepted these terms in 
1802, but a great number refused them, seeing no 
occasion for any such patriotic display in time of peace. 
As the prospects of war became more certain, however, 

803. the Government issued on the 31st of March 1803 
a Circular calling for more Volunteers, at the same 
time submitting a scale of allowances which they pro- 
posed to grant for their maintenance and encourage- 
ment. The response to this was ready and even eager. 
But presently Ministers bethought themselves that if 
they created too many Volunteers they»would leave no 
men to be ballotted for the Militia ; wherefore, after 
effusive acceptance of a great many offers of Volunteer 
corps, they suddenly and abruptly declined to answer 
further applications. Many thousands of men who 
had tendered their services were thus kept in suspense, 
and, as was natural, murmured loudly at such treatment ; 
and, since they had really been inspired in the vast 
majority of cases by truly patriotic motives, they com- 
plained that the Government was deliberately damping 
the ardour of the people. This was unjust. Adding- 
ton and his colleagues were only hesitating until they 
should have ascertained their own minds. But this 
was a lengthy process, for it was extremely doubtful 
whether they possessed any minds beyond such frag- 
ments as their lofty patron, Pitt, might choose to dole 
out to them. 



Meanwhile, on the nth of March a proclamation 1803. 
was published for the embodiment of the Militia ; when 
that force in Great Britain was found to be in an ex- 
tremely unsatisfactory state. Notwithstanding that the 
ballots had been going on ever since the previous 
December, the levy was still incomplete, and very 
seriously incomplete. Even in Ireland, where Militia- 
men were raised almost entirely by voluntary enlistment 
for a bounty of two guineas, there was a considerable 
deficiency. In Great Britain there had been a rush for 
substitutes, the price of which had already run up to an 
extravagant figure. There had been some recalcitrance 
in Scotland, and persistent evasion everywhere ; and 
crimps and insurance - societies 1 had been driving a 
roaring trade. This was a serious matter, for war was 
drawing nearer every day. An Act was passed on the 
24th of March to prolong the annual training of the 
Militia from twenty-one days to twenty-eight ; and 
another Act of the 7 th of April made an attempt to 
ensure that there should be some men to be trained, by 
doubling the bounty for the Irish Militia from two 
guineas to four. Then on the 16th of May, as has 
been told, war was declared ; and on the 28 th the 
Government called out the additional contingent of 
Militia, known as the Supplementary Militia, which 
was authorised by the Act of 1802. This signified 
that Great Britain, which so far had failed to pro- 
duce fifty-one thousand men in four or five months, 
must now produce another twenty -five thousand ; 2 
and, in order to quicken the process, an Act of the 
27th of May levied a cumulative penalty of £10 every 
quarter upon the counties for every man deficient of 
their quota, raised the fine for exemption from £10 
to ^15, and made substitutes who had deserted liable, 
upon conviction, to serve in the Regular Army abroad. 
This, however, did not prevent but rather stimulated a 

1 Societies which, for a certain premium, undertook to provide 
men with a substitute or with the amount of the exemption-fine. 

2 Ireland had no Supplementary Militia. 



1803. second rush for substitutes, with the natural result that 
their cost again increased rapidly. With high prices, 
which were commonly called, and to all intents actually 
were, high bounties, crimps grew rich, and desertion 
and fraudulent enlistment flourished more abundantly. 

These hasty measures did not escape sharp criticism, 
for, when men could gain from £20 to ^30 as sub- 
stitutes, they were not likely to accept a bounty of 
£7:12:6 to enter the Regular Army. Windham 
attacked the whole system fiercely, pointing out that 
if men could earn large sums by serving for a few years 
at home, they could not be expected to enlist for life 
to serve in the Regular Army in any part of the globe. 
Pitt echoed Windham's strictures, and both agreed in 
condemning a purely defensive policy as alike ruinous 
and dishonourable. 1 But Addington was popular with 
the country members ; and the House accepted his 
assurance that he was only dealing with defensive 
measures first, in view of the vast preparations of the 
enemy. When the opportunity for offensive operations 
should arrive, he added, no doubt the country would 
afford means for supporting them with honour. 

The dull, pompous man was therefore permitted to 
proceed with his defensive measures. He had long 
paltered with the Volunteers, sometimes urging them to 
tender their services, sometimes refusing to accept their 
offers; and he now passed what was called a Defence Act, 
the object of which seems to have been to stimulate them 
to come forward. It directed the Lords- Lieutenant 
to furnish lists of all able-bodied men, between the ages 
of fifteen and sixty, who were willing to serve in defence 
of their country ; distinguishing among these such as 
were Yeomen or Volunteers, and such as were ready 
to serve as waggoners, pioneers, or the like. It also 
required returns as to the vehicles, horses, cattle, forage, 
and so forth in the country, giving powers for the 
destruction or removal of them in case of invasion, 
and for the acquisition of land for military purposes. 
1 Pari. Hist, xxxvi. p. 1574, 6th June 1803. 



Lastly it ordained that persons enrolled in Volunteer 1803 
corps after the passing of the Act should not be called 
out except according to their own conditions of service, 
nor except in case of invasion or imminent danger 
thereof. A more foolish enactment, except as regards 
the registration of horses and kindred matters, was 
never proposed ; for it was and is the undoubted right 
of the Sovereign to call up all able-bodied men to serve 
in defence of their country, willing or unwilling ; and 
there was little object, therefore, in ascertaining whether 
they were willing or not. 

Moreover, the enactment as to the Volunteers was 
nugatory, for, a few days after the Act had been 
passed, Ministers finally made up their minds what they 
would do about them, and issued a code of regulations 
which became known as the June Allowances. Hereby June 
they offered to the Volunteer Corps pay for eighty-five 
days' exercise in the year, as well as salaries for 
a limited number of officers and for a permanent 
staff ; requiring from them in return an agreement to 
serve in any part of their military district. On the 
other hand, the Government announced that no Volunteer 
enrolled after the 16th of June would be exempted 
from the ballot for a new force, shortly about to be 
called into being. Nevertheless the terms were so 
liberal that they were readily embraced on all sides, and 
produced many additional tenders of service from new 
Volunteer corps. But now the Cabinet took alarm at 
the expense ; and once again, amid deep groans from 
disappointed patriots, their offers were left unanswered. 

On the 20th of June the bill for creating the new 
force above-named — the most important of the 
Government's measures — was duly brought forward in 
the House of Commons, and on the 6 th of July became July- 
law under the name of the Additional Force Act. It 
ordained that within the year there should be raised by 
ballot in the United Kingdom, an Army of Reserve of 
fifty thousand men, namely thirty-four thousand from 
England, six thousand from Scotland, and ten thousand 



1803. from Ireland, the whole to be duly apportioned among 
the counties and parishes as in the case of the Militia. 
In Ireland the Lord - Lieutenant was empowered to 
enlist the men by beat of drum instead of by the 
ballot, at his discretion. The standard of height was 
to be five feet two inches ; and service could be 
commuted by any ballotted man either by the pro- 
duction of a substitute, which assured permanent 
exemption, or by the payment of ^20, which sum 
purchased immunity from the ballot for one year only. 
All men were to be enrolled for service in the United 
Kingdom and Channel Islands alone, principals for five 
years, substitutes for the same term or until six months 
after the signature of a definitive peace. Parishes failing 
to produce their appointed quota of men were subjected 
to a cumulative fine of ^20, to be repeated every 
quarter, for every man deficient. Exemption was 
granted to all Volunteers and Yeomanry enrolled 
before the 22 nd of June, provided that their offers of 
service extended, in the event of invasion, to every 
part of their military district, or in other words, pro- 
vided that they had accepted the June Allowances. 
Finally the members of the Army df Reserve were 
permitted to enlist into the Regular Army. 

The augmentation of the Regular Army was the 
principal purpose of the Act, though the fact does not 
appear upon its surface. Nor, in theory, was the plan 
upon which it was based by any means essentially bad. 
The fifty thousand men were to be formed into fifty 
second battalions to as many regiments of the line, 
and were to be tempted by bounties to fill up the gaps 
in the first battalions as occasion might require. The 
Duke of York, ever since he had been Commander-in- 
chief, had been striving hard to give a second battalion 
to every regiment of regular British infantry ; and he 
it was, no doubt, who had suggested this organisation. 
But Pitt, who had originally urged the measure upon 
Addington, had, under the inspiration of the Horse 
Guards, very wisely designed to enlarge its scope, and to 


add to it further machinery for filling up the gaps in 1803. 
the Army of Reserve itself every year, so that it should 
be maintained at a constant strength. This most 
important detail was wholly omitted by Addington and 
Hobart. Entirely ignorant of all military matters, they 
provided simply for sudden increase of the Army by a 
spasmodic and costly effort, not for its permanent 
support, nor for making good the waste of war. 
What they actually did was to augment the number of 
men to be raised by ballot in a single year to one 
hundred and ten or twenty thousand men, admitting 
throughout the principle of substitution, which as a 
natural consequence swept into the Militia and Army 
of Reserve every man who might with better manage- 
ment have been recruited into the Army. The policy 
was furiously attacked by Windham, who looked upon 
it as fatal to all chance of ever creating an offensive 
force. He maintained that no enlistment ought to be 
permitted for any troops except the Regulars, and that 
for the Militia there should be no alternative between 
personal service or heavy fines for exemption, the 
proceeds of which fines should be gathered into a 
general recruiting -fund. " I would sooner leave the 
Militia incomplete," he said, " than introduce that fatal 
principle of substitution." 1 He spoke to deaf ears. 
Pitt, for reasons best known to himself, defended the 
measure as it stood ; and his voice prevailed. The race 
for substitutes naturally became a headlong scramble 
after the passing of the Act ; but still Addington and 
Hobart had not exhausted their powers of ineptitude. 

Their next action, however, showed some return of 
sense, for it consisted in a bill to amend the absurd 
Defence Act of the 1 1 th of June, which became law on 
the 27th of July as the Levy en Masse Act. It was July 27. 
based upon the undoubted right of the Sovereign to 
demand military service of all his subjects to repel 
invasion, and provided the following machinery for 
that purpose. 

1 Pari Hist, xxxvi. p. 1622, 23rd June 1803. 



The Lords-Lieutenant, to whom the entire execution 
of the Act was entrusted, were required to obtain lists 
of all men between the ages of seventeen and fifty-five, 
and to sort them into four classes, namely : first, 
unmarried men under thirty years of age, with no child 
living under ten years old ; secondly, unmarried men 
between thirty and fifty years of age, with no child as 
aforesaid ; thirdly, married men from seventeen to 
thirty years of age, with not more than two children 
living under ten years old ; fourthly, all other men 
whatsoever. Exemption was granted to the infirm, to 
the judges, to clergymen, schoolmasters, persons actually 
serving in the Army, Navy, and Reserve Forces, Lords- 
Lieutenant, their Deputies, and peace-officers. The 
King was empowered to direct any parish to be provided 
with arms ; and to order the three first classes to be 
trained, under the superintendence of the Deputy- 
Lieutenants, for two hours on every Sunday or other 
convenient day in the week from Lady Day to Christmas, 
and moreover, until Christmas 1803, on at least fourteen 
and at most twenty successive days. Deputy-Lieutenants 
were authorised to hire instructors and to appoint 
four officers to every six-score met^; and provision 
was made for enforcing attendance by means of fines, 
and punishing misconduct on parade by fine, and by im- 
prisonment for seven days in default of payment. In 
case of invasion or imminent danger thereof the whole 
or any part of the men enrolled under the Act were 
liable to be embodied in new battalions, or in existing 
corps of Regulars or Militia, and marched to any part of 
Great Britain. If only a part of the classes was to be 
embodied, the required number was to be selected by 
ballot ; but in places where Volunteer corps had been 
formed, or where a number of men of any age between 
seventeen and fifty, equal to three-fourths of the first 
class, engaged themselves to serve as Volunteers and to 
march to any part of Great Britain in case of invasion, 
the King was empowered to suspend the compulsory 
training prescribed by the Act. An amending Act, 

ch. vii HISTORY OF THE ARMY 207 

passed a fortnight later, provided further that if the 1803. 
number of Volunteers in any county were satisfactory 
to the King, he could suspend the operation of the 
Levy en Masse Act, even though such number did not 
amount to the prescribed tale of three-fourths of the 
first class. 

This measure amounted practically to an Act to 
compel men to become Volunteers, and was meant to 
be interpreted as such. The Government on the 30th July 30. 
of July had sent a Circular to the Lords- Lieutenant 
limiting the numbers of men to be immediately trained 
to six times the quota of the Ordinary Militia, or in 
round figures to three hundred and nine thousand 
privates, and directing that the enrolment of Volunteers 
up to that number should be encouraged. This instruction 
was supplemented on the 3rd of August by promulga- Aug. 3. 
tion of a new set of allowances, known as the August 
Allowances, for all Volunteer corps accepted after the 
22nd of June. The Circular set forth the impossibility, 
on financial grounds, of extending the June Allowances 
to a greater number of men than already received them ; 
and offered in their stead to such infantry corps as 
might in future be formed a grant of ^1 a man for 
clothing every three years, and one shilling a day for 
twenty days' exercise in the year. No allowance 
for clothing and appointments was to be made in 
future to men entering corps of Yeomanry ; but, under 
the Levy en Masse Act, men who appeared on horse- 
back, properly armed and accoutred at their own 
expense, were excused from service in the infantry, and 
might either be attached to existing corps of Yeomanry, 
or formed into new troops or regiments. 

Having done this, the Government proceeded, on 
the 1 1 th of August, to pass an Act known as the Aug. 1 1 . 
Billetting Act, to enable Volunteers and Yeomen to be 
billetted upon occasion. Incidentally this enactment 
subjected both Yeomanry and Volunteers to military 
law, if called out to repel invasion, and transferred 
them in the same emergency from the control of the 



1803. Lords-Lieutenant to that of the General commanding 
their districts. It made likewise some kind of provision 
for discipline at other times by vesting the funds of all 
Volunteer corps in their commanding officers, and 
making the collection of fines, which had been imposed 
upon the Volunteers under the rules of their corps, 
recoverable by distress. Lastly it ordained the qualifica- 
tion of an effective Yeoman to be attendance at twelve 
days' exercise, and of an effective infantry Volunteer to 
be attendance at twenty-four days' exercise in the year ; 
and exempted all such effective men from the ballot, 
not only for the Army of Reserve, but for any other 
Additional Force that might be raised in future. How 
this last clause ever passed through both Houses of 
Parliament is and remains a mystery. Sir William 
Yonge averred that it had been surreptitiously introduced 
into the House at a time when most of the members 
had left London for the country in order to drill with 
their various regiments ; 1 and this is possible, for the 
provision was certainly contrary not only to the Army 
of Reserve Act itself but, by their own admission, to 
the actual intention of Ministers. Indeed, in spite of 
the plain words of the Act, they cdtlld not believe 
that the section really exempted Volunteers from the 
ballot for the Army of Reserve, until their own Law- 
Officers pronounced that undoubtedly it had such force ; 
when with infinite mortification they communicated the 
unwelcome news to the Lords- Lieutenant. Thus, 
with a masterpiece of careless imbecility, ended the 
summer session of 1803. 

The effect of all these measures concerning the 
Volunteers was, of course, immediate. There was a 
general rush for enrolment ; and the offers of service 
poured in with such abundance that the War Office 
Aug. 18. was fairly swamped with them. On the 18th of 
August the Lords - Lieutenant were informed by 
Circular that the classes need not be called out under 
the Levy en Masse Act, and that the operation of the 
1 H.D. Commons, 14th Dec. 1803. 

ch. vii HISTORY OF THE ARMY 209 

measure in regard to training was suspended. It was 1803. 
further intimated to them that the voluntary system 
could not be carried to an unlimited extent, and that 
no additional corps would be accepted in counties 
where the number of effective Volunteers, including 
Yeomanry, exceeded the appointed number of six times 
the quota of the Ordinary Militia. In truth Ministers 
were already appalled at the monster that they had 
called into being without any adequate means of 
controlling it ; and, moreover, they had quite overlooked 
the difficulty of arming this host of men. Another 
Circular, therefore, was issued to the Lieutenants on the 
22nd of August, asking what number of arms could be 
procured from public or private sources in each county, 
and intimating that for the present the Government 
did not propose to issue firelocks for more than one 
man in four of the appointed quota, which number 
would, in its opinion, suffice for purposes of training. 
The remainder would be provided with pikes, of 
which there was an amply sufficient supply. 

The answers to these Circulars was a howl of dis- 
content. The nation was ablaze with the first furious 
flame of patriotic ardour, and felt such announcements 
to be drenches of cold water. Ministers had asked for 
Volunteers to defend the country, and every able-bodied 
man was eager to respond to the summons. What 
manner of Government was this which presumed to 
say that thousands should be excluded from the per- 
formance of an honourable duty, and to trifle with the 
supply of arms? The clamour was loudest in the 
maritime counties, which, being the most exposed to 
danger, were naturally and reasonably the most eager 
to equip themselves for defence ; and the Government 
had put itself in the wrong by the egregious blunder of 
making the quota the same for all counties, whether 
inland or upon the coast. In the height of the crisis 
the direction of the Volunteers was re-transferred from Aug. 
the War Office to the Home Office ; and the unhappy 
■Mr. Yorke found himself confronted with a vast mass 





1803. of unanswered letters containing offers of Volunteers 
from all quarters. For a week he wrestled with them, 
and then giving up the attempt in despair, he issued on 
Aug. 31. the 31st two Circulars to announce that all the offers 
were accepted, provided that they did not exceed the 
quota laid down in Lord Hobart's Circular of the 18 th 
of August ; also that a certain number of supernumerary 
volunteers might be attached to accepted corps, which 
supernumeraries, however, should be entitled to no 
allowance whatever from Government and should enjoy 
no exemption from the ballot. For the rest, all troops 
and companies must be of a certain strength, and 
muskets would be issued for one-fourth of the appointed 
quota, unless the arms already provided by corps for 
themselves rendered so large a proportion unnecessary. 
For the remainder of the infantry and for the artillery 
there was abundance of pikes, which could be furnished 
to any number that was required. 

These concessions, though more apparent than real, 
stilled the clamour for a time ; and at this point it will be 
well to show exactly what the Government had accom- 
plished. First, it had ordered some hundred and 
twenty thousand men to be raised by ballot within a few 
months for the Ordinary Militia, Supplementary Militia, 
and Army of Reserve. The general terms of service for 
the three were the same, but the standard for the Militia, 
until the 27th of July, was five feet four inches, and 
for the Army of Reserve five feet two inches. An Act 
of the 27th of July, 1 however, had lowered the standard 
for substitutes in the Militia to five feet two inches ; 
so that according to the letter of the law there was one 
standard for principals and another for substitutes. 
Substitutes for the Militia might not have more than 
one child born in lawful wedlock, while substitutes for 
the Army of Reserve might have an unlimited number. 
In the Ordinary Militia a fine of £io 9 and in the 
Supplementary Militia a fine of ^15 purchased ex- 
emption from the ballot for five years ; in the Army of 
1 43 Geo. III. cap. 100. 


Reserve a fine of £20 purchased exemption for one 1803. 
year only. Lastly, men who served in person or by 
substitute in the Militia were exempt from the ballot 
for the Army of Reserve, and vice versa ; but men who 
had only paid the exemption-fine for one of these two 
forces were not immune from the ballot for the other. 
Again, five days' exercise sufficed to deliver any Yeoman 
or Volunteer from the ballot for the Militia, but a 
Yeoman must undergo twelve days' drill, and an 
infantry Volunteer twenty-four days' annually to obtain 
deliverance from the Army of Reserve. These dis- 
tinctions were not all of them made quite clear in the 
Acts, with the consequence that they were imperfectly 
grasped by the county authorities and hardly appre- 
hended at all by the body of the people. The natural 
result was enormous correspondence between the Home 
Office and the Lords -Lieutenant, endless confusion 
in making the levies, and deep resentment among all 
classes that were liable to the ballot. The task of the 
Lieutenancies in raising so great a body of men would 
under the most favourable conditions have been very 
arduous ; but the action of the Government made it 
practically impossible of performance. The wholesale 
exemption from all ballots of over three hundred thou- 
sand Volunteers, chiefly unmarried men, threw the 
obligation upon married men, to whom personal service 
was often ruinous. Once again, therefore, the price of 
substitutes rose with a bound to ^30, £40, and even 
£60. The proceeds of the exemption-fines which, in 
theory, were supposed to enable the parishes to pur- 
chase substitutes for the men who had paid them, 
were of course inadequate. The parish officers resorted 
in despair to the crimps. The crimps — and there was 
probably at least one crimp, professional or amateur, 
in every parish — observant of the daily increasing value 
of their goods, were in no haste to place them on the 
market. Menaced, therefore, by exorbitant prices on 
the one hand, and the spectre of cumulative quarterly 
fines on the other, the parochial authorities finally sat 



1803. down in despair, hoarding the exemption-fines against 
the day when the price of recruits should fall, or a lucky 
chance should throw them some poacher or beggar who 
would be glad to enlist in order to escape from the law. 

Much of the trouble had been brought about by the 
anxiety of the Government to create a force of Volunteers ; 
yet the Volunteers themselves were in the same con- 
fusion as the ballotted levies. In the first place, they 
were divided into two totally distinct sections, supported 
by two different scales of allowances, enrolled under 
two different conditions of service, and governed by 
two distinct Acts of Parliament. Those under the 
June Allowances, who may be called the Old Volunteers, 
were liberally supported, liable by the Government's 
own deed to service within their military district only 
and were administered under the Volunteer Act of 1802 
and the supplementary provisions of the Billetting Act of 
1803. Those under the August allowances — the New 
Volunteers, as they may be termed — were stinted in the 
matter of grants from the Treasury, liable for service 
in any part of Great Britain, and administered under the 
Levy en Masse Act. The more favourable position 
of the Old Volunteers naturally ga*e rise to much 
jealousy and incidentally led to much friction. The 
Government very rightly encouraged the amalgamation 
of isolated troops and companies into regiments and 
battalions ; and hence it frequently happened that corps 
were composed in various proportions of units engaged 
on varying terms of service, half of the companies 
perhaps under the June Allowances, and half under 
the August Allowances. Thus a man in one company 
who absented himself from drill was liable only to the 
penalty imposed by the rules of the corps, while a similar 
offender in another company of the same battalion could 
be fined under the Levy en Masse Act. Again, a man 
of one company who misconducted himself on parade 
was subject to the fine prescribed by the rules of the 
corps ; but a man guilty of the like offence in another 
company could not only be mulcted, probably, in a 


different sum of money, but could be imprisoned in 1803. 
default of payment. Yet again, the Old Volunteers, 
being but men, were not immortal, and therefore were 
constantly diminished by casualties. Though in theory 
no more Volunteers were to have been accepted after 
a certain date, except on the August Allowances, it was 
impossible to break faith with officers who had raised 
corps on the understanding that they should receive 
the June Allowances ; and it was therefore laid down 
that these should be permitted to fill any vacancies 
which left their corps short of establishment. The 
commanders of the Old Volunteers, therefore, enjoyed 
a peculiar kind of patronage. Being able to offer the 
best terms, they could, of course, be sure of obtaining 
the best men ; and it was no uncommon thing for 
commanders of New Volunteers to find that some of 
their most promising recruits had left them without a 
word and gone to some troop or regiment of Old 

Incidentally this brought up the whole question 
whether Volunteers at large had or had not the right 
to resign when they pleased. The Law-Officers of the 
Crown decided against any such right ; and the Govern- 
ment circulated their opinion to the Lieutenancies for 
their guidance. On the other hand, Erskine, the famous 
advocate and future Chancellor, who commanded with 
extreme inefficiency the Inns of Court Volunteers, up- 
held the opposite contention in letters to the public 
prints, with all the pomp of florid and redundant 
verbiage which was to be expected from a man whose 
rhetorical powers were only exceeded by his consuming 
vanity. The letters spread like wildfire all over England, 
and were not only eagerly devoured but were quoted 
as of paramount authority by Volunteers in all quarters. 
I Commandants were in despair, for their powers of 
discipline were already insufficient. The great mass 
of the Volunteers were ordinary labouring men, who 
had already discovered that the only penalty for not 
jattending drill was a fine, which had little terror for 

2i 4 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xm 

1803. those who possessed no property. The remainder were 
men of superior education, though by no means always 
of superior character, who had given to their corps the 
form of a club, and in many cases claimed the right 
to elect their own officers. If every sulky or dis- 
contented man could resign whenever he pleased, then, 
in the opinion of many commandants, there was an end 
of ail discipline. The question agitated the force all 
through the winter of 1 803 ; the Government striving 
to comfort themselves with the reflection that men who 
declined to serve as Volunteers could be trained com- 
pulsorily under the Levy en Masse Act, but forgetting 
that it would be almost impossible to find officers and 
instructors for such levies, and that the establishment of 
yet another description of force for home defence would 
only further confound the existing confusion. At 
length the controversy came before the Courts of Law, 
when the Judges of the King's Bench decided, on the 
6th of February 1804, in favour of Erskine's con- 
tention that every Volunteer had the right to resign at 
his own will. 

Much trouble was engendered also by the dearth 
of arms ; the muskets in the arsenals being utterly 
insufficient to meet the enormous demand. Great 
numbers of Volunteer corps, with excellent spirit, came 
out and drilled for week after week without weapon 
of any kind, until at last they very pardonably lost 
patience and declared that they would proceed no 
longer with such a travesty of training. Ministers 
in vain offered to supply pikes to any number : the 
men would not receive them. The Volunteer infantry, 
by the Government's own direction, had been clothed 
in scarlet like the Regulars ; and it had no intention 
of being armed except as the Regular Infantry, with 
firelock and bayonet. Was not the pike the weapon 
of regicide French and rebel Irish? and of what 
service would it be against a French musket ? The 
discontent was so acute in many quarters that the 
Lords - Lieutenant apprehended the dissolution of 


very many corps ; and incidentally this same dearth 1803. 
of arms gave birth to a legitimate grievance. The 
law laid down that Volunteers, to gain their ex- 
emption from the ballot, must appear at exercise 
properly armed and accoutred for a certain number 
of days before the 21st of September. Many com- 
manders, naturally unwilling to waste all the days 
of drill without training in arms, reserved a certain 
number of them against the time when the long-expected 
muskets should arrive ; and waiting too long, sacrificed 
the exemption for their corps. These naturally pro- 
tested against the strict enforcement of the law in their 
case ; and many others indignantly asked how it was 
possible for them to appear properly armed and accoutred 
when Government failed to supply arms and accoutre- 
ments. The situation was most awkward, for the 
Secretary of State could not override the law ; and he 
could only promise to pass a short Act of Parliament at 
the earliest possible moment, which he duly did on the 
13th of December 1803, to remove the grievance and to 
grant exemption for drills thus attended without arms. 

However, in spite of all obstacles, the Volunteers con- 
tinued to increase steadily during the autumn and winter 
of 1803. There was much sound patriotic feeling 
as yet at the heart of the movement. Private sub- 
scriptions for the foundation and maintenance of corps 
had been abundant and generous, so that officers of 
regiments on the August Allowances were practically able 
for the present to give their men the June Allowances ; 
this being the one means whereby harmony could be 
kept up between the New Volunteers and the Old. 
Enormous sums were foolishly squandered upon dress 
and frippery at large ; but for the moment enthusiasm 
averted any serious financial pressure. The men were 
delighted with their smart new uniforms, and the officers 
supremely well satisfied not only with their gold and 
silver lace, but with their new titles. In the session 
of 1803 there were already so many Colonels in the 
Commons that Robert Craufurd, the future leader of 



1803. the Light Division, was nicknamed the "Regular 
Colonel," to distinguish him as the one man who had 
any right to the appellation. It may be reckoned also 
that at least as many women as men were well pleased 
by all this cheapening of rank and uniform. And yet, 
if Napoleon had landed at the end of September or 
beginning of October, he would have found little to 
oppose him but a half- armed, undisciplined rabble, 
composed in many instances of fragments of corps 
whereof part had marched out to meet him and the 
remainder, agreeable to their terms of service, had 
refused to move out of their military districts. 

But Napoleon had been guilty of blunders as serious 
in their own kind as those of Addington and Hobart, 
and his preparations were as backward as theirs. On the 
2 1 st of July he had mapped out his scheme of invasion 
as follows : — There were to be ready three hundred 
vessels at Flushing to bring over the Dutch contingent 
of his army ; three hundred more at Nieuport and 
Ostend to embark thirty thousand men ; three hundred 
more at Dunkirk, Gravelines, and Calais for conveyance 
of six thousand horses and baggage ; two thousand 
three hundred and eighty at Wissant, Ambleteuse, and 
Boulogne ; and a few hundred more at Etaples for 
transport of three thousand horses and one hundred 
and twenty-five guns. All this was clear enough on 
paper ; but in practice things were different. Nearly 
all of the ports above enumerated were small and 
bad, with bars, shoals, or other impediments, so that 
it was admittedly impossible for more than a limited 
number of vessels to leave them by one tide. This made 
it necessary that the craft which left the ports by one 
tide should lie in the roadstead till another tide should 
release their fellows, during which interval they would 
need protection both from British attack and from the 
weather. Fortifications were therefore erected in some 
quarters to cover the anchorage ; and very extensive 
works were also undertaken for the improvement of 
the harbours. But excavation and dredging are lengthy 


operations ; and, even supposing them to be completed, 1803. 
many of the flotilla, having been constructed in distant 
ports, would have to run the gauntlet of the British 
frigates, which cruised off every promontory, before 
they could be concentrated in the Channel. Moreover, 
all was by no means well with the flotilla. Too many 
of the craft had been put into building at once, which 
caused delay. Many others, particularly the vessels 
designed to carry horses, were found to be clumsy 
sailers and so faulty in many ways that their construction 
was suspended. In fact, by the spring of 1804 little 
more than three-fifths of the two thousand vessels were 
ready. Furthermore, fishing-vessels of light draught 
were found to be unobtainable in the number required, 
and it was necessary to replace them by large merchant- 
men of too great draught for any anchorage but the 
Scheldt. Even of the smaller craft many of the heavier 
boats had, by Napoleon's perverse rejection of his 
Admirals' advice, been apportioned to harbours which 
had not water to float them. In a word, the great plan 
of the 2 1st of July had broken down completely ; the 
building of the flotilla was in arrear ; the construction 
of the vessels themselves was defective ; their efficiency 
for attack was extremely doubtful ; they could only 
with great difficulty be brought into the ports of the 
Channel, and if brought in they could only with equal 
difficulty be brought out again in any large numbers. 
By the end of January 1804 Napoleon therefore 
renounced the project of invasion by surprise during the 
darkness of winter, and determined not to cross the 
Channel until his ships of war had cleared the way for 
him. The whole of his armed boats, of which some 
four hundred and sixty were concentrated by the end 
of March 1804 at Boulogne, Wimereux, Etaples, and 
Ambleteuse, thereupon became useless. Had they been 
designed merely as transports they would still have 
been valuable, but having been intended also for fighting 
purposes they had been spoiled for any useful object. 
The whole of the money spent upon them had thus 

2i 8 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1803. been wasted ; and meanwhile the preparations for 
strengthening the French Navy proper had been very 
seriously retarded. In brief, Napoleon had lost a 
year's work by devoting himself, contrary to all naval 
advice, to the wrong object. 

It was well for England that this was so ; for when 
Nov. 22. the Government met Parliament in November it had 
only a miserable story to tell. The casualties in the 
Regular Army during 1803 numbered rather over 
thirteen thousand ; the recruits gained in the same 
period were rather over eleven thousand ; so that 
upon the whole the Army had been diminished by over 
two thousand men. It must not be supposed that 
Ministers were so methodical as to have produced any 
such figures, but such was the actual state of the case. 
The much vaunted Army of Reserve was in an equally 
lamentable condition. Of the fifty thousand men to 
be raised within the year, there had been obtained by 
the 31st of December just under forty-one thousand, 
of whom rather more than one-tenth had deserted. 
This loss, together with other casualties, reduced the 
effective total to thirty-four thousand five hundred, 
of which number rather more than -seven thousand, 
tempted by an additional bounty of ten guineas, had 
enlisted into the Regular Army and had thus brought 
the number of recruits during the year to the figure 
above quoted. In fact, the Army of Reserve Act 
was a failure. Addington himself confessed in April 
1804 that since November 1803 its inconveniences had 
exceeded its advantages; and by the end of 1803 it 
was in practice already dead. The Militia also, in 
spite of endless ballots, was still short of its establishment 
by seven thousand men. In short, there was little to 
show for the past year's work but about three hundred 
and eighty thousand Volunteers and Yeomanry of all 
ranks, of whom three hundred and forty thousand 
claimed to be effective rank and file, in Great Britain, 
and eighty-two thousand in Ireland ; making a total 
of some four hundred and sixty thousand men, un- 



organised, undisciplined, expensive, and for the most 1804. 
part useless. 

The Government's first measure was a Consolidated 
Volunteers' Act, whereby it was hoped to amend some 
of the appalling blunders committed during the last 
session. As a vast number of the members of both 
Houses were Volunteer officers, the measure was 
sure of a stormy reception. Bitter and scathing 
comment was passed upon the confusion over the 
matters of arms, exemptions, and various allowances ; 
and since the question of exemptions touched not only 
the Volunteers but the Militia and the Army of Reserve, 
the bill brought the entire military policy of the 
Government under legitimate review. Yorke declared 
that the points which chiefly needed attention for the 
improvement of the Volunteers were the election of 
officers, the control of corps by committees, and the 
general question of discipline. As to the evils that 
followed upon the two first, there should have been 
no question ; but the election of officers was defended 
not only by Sheridan but by so shrewd and sensible a 
man as Whitbread ; while it was declared by Yorke 
himself, in absolute defiance of the truth, that the 
committees devoted themselves exclusively to financial 
business. As to discipline, one member, Mr. Giles, 
maintained that the Volunteers might secure it for 
themselves by their own rules, but that Parliament had 
no right to impose it. The more the whole matter 
was thrashed out, the more clearly it appeared that this 
huge mass of men was absolutely uncontrollable ; and 
even Pitt, after many protestations that he approved of 
Volunteers in principle, was fain to admit that " it was 
impossible to trust continually to the operation of the 
Volunteer spirit." 

Colonel Robert Craufurd, more ingenuous and with 
greater insight, declared that the entire Volunteer 
system was faulty from beginning to end : faulty in 
its constitution, its finance, its committees, its ex- 
emptions, its training, even its clothing. It was 



1804. wrong to allow the Volunteers to be of all descrip- 
tions, old and young, sound and infirm, married and 
single ; for, if they were called out for service, half 
of them would go home unless a decisive action were 
fought at once. It was wrong to allow Volunteers to 
be self-controlled by elected committees, and in some 
cases by general assemblies ; for that meant almost as 
many parliaments as corps. It was wrong to let them 
be supported by private subscription, for this signified 
the taxation of the generous and patriotic for a burden 
that should fall upon all : if the expense of Volunteers 
were defrayed from Imperial funds there would be 
no occasion for committees and assemblies. The 
exemptions were wrong, for they crippled every branch 
of the forces, even the Volunteers themselves, since they 
limited the number of men who could be trained to 
arms lest none should be left for the ballot. Moreover, 
the Volunteers were a privileged body, the envy and 
dislike of the poorer classes, upon whom, by the 
exemptions, the whole weight of the ballot was thrown. 
The training was wrong, for the Prussian system of 
drill was utterly useless for fighting in England, and 
was only taught to the Regulars because they were 
intended to fight abroad. The clothing was wrong, 
because it confused Volunteers with Regulars. The 
sight of Volunteers retreating would dishearten the 
Regular troops by making them believe that regiments 
of the Line had been beaten, and would for the same 
reason encourage the French. He himself would much 
have preferred to call out the whole of the first class 
under the Levy en Masse Act, put them under half- 
pay officers, clothe them and train them, with the help 
of poachers and gamekeepers instead of drill-sergeants, 
to load, fire, and hit their mark, and to advance or 
retire rapidly from shelter to shelter. As things were, 
if Parliament tried to enact regulations for them, it was 
told, not that the rules were just or unjust, but that they 
were not agreeable to the Volunteers. " So delicate a 
machine," he declared very truly, " is unfit for war." 



Craufurd spoke at enormous length and probably 1804. 
to an empty House ; and though Windham echoed 
every word, his protests fell upon deaf ears. Never- 
theless the bill made little progress. The Govern- 
ment, represented by feeble men who did not know 
their own minds, was constantly overborne and 
brought into contempt. By the end of March 
the bill had been committed and recommitted four 
times ; twenty -four new clauses had been added, 
nearly all the original clauses had been altered or 
abandoned, and yet the measure was as far from 
passing as ever. 1 

At the same time Ministers had been fighting a 
losing battle with the New Volunteers over another 
point. These last needed adjutants, instructors, and so 
forth, as much as their brothers on the June Allowances ; 
but Ministers began by refusing to allow any pay what- 
ever to provide them with a permanent staff. 2 This 
of course provoked much outcry, and the Government 
then offered to concede pay for adjutants and sergeant- 
majors in all corps of a certain strength, provided that 
the New Volunteers, like the Old, would agree to be 
exercised for eighty -five days in the year. It was 
hardly a fair arrangement, for the Old Volunteers under 
the June Allowances received pay for the whole of 
their eighty-five days, whereas the New Volunteers, 
under the August Allowances, received pay but for 
twenty days ; the theory being that drill on every 
Sunday made up fifty-two days in the year, which 
added to the twenty above mentioned left only thirteen 
days of exercise to be performed gratuitously. But it 
was out of the question that labouring men should give 
up a day's work for nothing ; and this regulation 
therefore signified simply that the officer must pay the 
men for thirteen days out of his own pocket. The 
inevitable result was fresh discontent. Practically the 

1 H.D. Commons' Debates, 8th, 27th, 29th Feb. ; 6th, 9th, 
19th, 22nd March 1804. 

2 Circular to the Lords-Lieutenant, 28th Sept. 1803. 



i 804. entire burden of providing parochial substitutes and of 
paying parochial fines for the Militia and Army of 
Reserve fell upon the landed interest ; and there was 
great resentment at the imposition of this new tax, for 
such in efFect it was, upon shoulders that were already 
aching. The Government, therefore, was compelled 
in February 1 to grant a day's pay to all officers and 
privates who should attend inspection of their corps by 
a General Officer or Field Officer, provided that such 
inspection did not recur oftener than once in two 
months. The pretext for this allowance was a desire 
to ensure regular attendance at inspections ; but it was 
in reality only a cloak to disguise a surrender to the 
clamour of the Volunteers. 

Meanwhile, however, Ministers had for once taken 
a wise and sensible step, which helped to extricate 
them from their difficulties. In October 1 803 2 Mr. 
Yorke had invited the Volunteers of many of the 
maritime counties to go out upon permanent duty in 
successive reliefs for ten days or a fortnight, receiving 
daily pay and voluntarily subjecting themselves to 
military law during their period of service. The men 
responded heartily ; and the improvement to their 
discipline was so great that in March 1804 3 Yorke 
renewed the invitation not only to the maritime but to 
the inland counties also. At the same time he inti- 
mated that he would grant permanent pay, as before, 
for any period not exceeding a month and not shorter 
than ten days, which should count as part of the exercise 
required to obtain exemption and the pay for a per- 
manent staff", and would add to this an allowance of a 
guinea a man for necessaries, any surplus from which 
would be paid into the men's hands. The concession 
having been yielded late in the day of course provoked 
less gratitude than contempt. 

Fighting thus an unsuccessful battle against the 

1 Circular to Lords-Lieutenant, 10th Feb. 1804. 
2 Circular to Lords-Lieutenant of 12th Oct. 1803. 
3 Circulars to Lords-Lieutenant, 5th and 6th March 1804. 


Volunteers both in and out of Parliament, Addington's 1804. 
Ministry showed increasing signs of weakness. Awed 
by the incessant attacks of Windham, Craufurd, and 
finally of Pitt upon their neglect of their Regular Army, 
the Government, at the end of March, brought forward 
a plan for augmenting it. Mr. Yorke, in introducing Mar. 
the measure, confessed that the Army of Reserve Act 
had broken down completely, the recruits gained during 
the past three months having hardly outbalanced the 
desertions. He proposed, therefore, to suspend the Act 
for one year, and, in view of this removal of competition 
in the recruiting market, to raise eight new regiments 
and ten new battalions, each one thousand strong, at a 
bounty not exceeding ten guineas. He also brought 
in a bill to increase the Irish Militia to twenty-eight 
thousand men, so as to enable ten thousand of them to 
serve in England, which they had offered to do, and 
to liberate that number of Regular troops for service 
abroad. An augmentation of two thousand men to 
the Guards and of three thousand five hundred to the 
cavalry, for both of which recruits were always easily 
gained, had already been ordered ; so that upon the 
whole, the Army would, by one way and another, be 
increased by twenty-five thousand men. It does not 
appear, however, that Yorke at once announced the 
means by which he intended to raise his new battalions. 
This was no other than the old resource of raising men 
for rank ; and he had already, in fact, set this objection- 
able machinery in motion for the augmentation of the 
cavalry. 1 The Commander-in-chief, however, had no 
intention of allowing the abuses of 1794 to be repeated ; 
and he laid it down as a rigid rule that no officer should 
gain more than one step, no matter how many recruits 
he might produce, and, that unless the men were forth- 
coming within six months, no step should be granted 
at all. Permission was accordingly given for the officers 
of the Fourth, Eighth, Twenty - third, Fifty -sixth, 
Seventy-eighth, and Seventy-ninth to enlist men for 
1 S.C.L.B. 3rd Oct. 1803. 



1804. their own promotion in second battalions. 1 Letters of 
service were also granted on the 14th of May to Lord 
Matthew and Colonel Brown, and on the 24th to 
Colonels Falkiner and Burke to raise four new regi- 
ments in Ireland, of which three formed part of the 
Line until 18 18, and Brown's was swept into the 
Eighty-seventh Foot. 2 But besides this a contract was 
concluded with a certain Colonel French and Captain 
Sandon for raising five thousand men, of which four 
thousand were to be produced within nine months, 
and the entire number within thirteen months. The 
levy-money granted for each man was thirteen guineas, 
raised subsequently to nineteen guineas, with an addi- 
tional ten guineas upon the delivery of each batch of 
five hundred recruits ; and it was conceded that ten 
boys should be allowed among every hundred men. 
This levy was a complete failure, the Deputy-inspector- 
general of Recruiting in Ireland having set his face 

1 The terms were as follows : — 

Major for Lieut. -Colonelcy to 




. 82 

2 Capts. for Majorities each 


. 180 

10 Lieuts. for companies each 


. 450 

12 Ensigns for Lieutenancies 


• 144 

8 gentlemen for ensigncies 



. 168 


Bounty to Recruit . . . . j£io 10 o 
„ to recruiting officer, per man . 220 
party „ „ .110 

&3 13 0 

Besides the regiments named in the text, the 2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 
and 1 8th, were also selected to raise second battalions. 
S.C.L.B. 19th and 24th April 1804. 
C.C.L.B. 15th May 1804. 
2 C.J. vol. 60, p. 620. 

Burke's was numbered 98th, became the 97th in 181 5, and was 
disbanded in 181 8. 

Matthew's was numbered 99th, became the 98th in 181 5, and 
was disbanded in 1 81 8. 

Falkiner's was numbered the 100th, became the 99th in 181 5, 
and was disbanded in 18 18. 



against it from the first, not without insinuations 1804. 
that French was a crimp, and not without some justi- 
fication for using that term. At the end of twelve 
months the Duke of York cancelled the letter of 
service, French having produced only two hundred 
men instead of five thousand ; and therewith this 
extremely objectionable mode of recruiting came to an 
end, as it seems for ever. It was none too soon, for 
the notorious Mary Anne Clarke, the mistress of the 
Duke of York, was mixed up in the affair. Indeed she 
contrived, with her customary dexterity, to extract 
£iyoo from the pockets of French and Sandon in 
return for her good offices (which were very ineffectual) 
with the Duke of York to promote the success of the 
levy. 1 This scandal was not exposed until 1809 ; 
but meanwhile it seems astonishing that after the 
experience of the past war either Ministers or Com- 
mander-in-chief should have countenanced any such 
agreement as was made with French ; though it must 
be admitted that the supervision of the recruiting 
service had been greatly improved, that the Inspector 
in Ireland had at once put his foot firmly upon all 
malpractices, and that he had been most loyally supported 
by the Horse Guards. 

These measures, however, were practically the last 
of Addington's Ministry. Pitt had long been growing 
weary of the attitude of patron and protector which he 
had assumed towards it in the first place, and which his 
supporters had from the beginning condemned. At 
last on the 23rd of April, upon the motion for going 
into committee on the Army of Reserve Suspension 
Bill, he rose to oppose it and turned violently on the 
Government. "No one measure for public defence 
Can they be said to have originated," he declared, " and 
several they have enfeebled and retarded," and therewith 
he proceeded to sketch his own plan for setting matters 

1 The whole of the papers disinterred upon this unsavoury affair 
are printed in Stratford's authentic edition of the Investigation of 
the charges against the Duke of York, vol. ii. 355 seq. 




1804. right. His motion was lost by a majority of thirty- 
seven ; but the fate of the Government was hardly 
doubtful from that moment. The bills for the 
augmentation of the Irish Militia and for enabling it to 
volunteer for service in England were passed on the 
3rd of May, and on the 7th the House was informed 
that Pitt had been called upon to form a Ministry in 
the room of Addington resigned. 

[For the authorities upon which the foregoing narrative 
is based I must refer the reader to my work, The County 
Lieutenancies and the Army, 1803-1814.] 



The formation of Pitt's new administration took some 1804. 
time, and when completed was anything but satisfactory. May. 
The Prime Minister had desired to include in it the 
ablest men of all parties without any exception ; but 
George the Third would not hear of admitting Fox to 
his councils ; and having regard to the instability of the 
King's mental powers at the moment, Pitt forbore 
to press his wishes upon the Sovereign. Fox very 
generously accepted the situation without a murmur, 
and promised to advise his followers to accept places in 
Pitt's Government ; but they with one voice refused to 
take office without their chief, and, worse still, Lord 
Grenville and his political adherents declared likewise 
that they would enter no Cabinet from which Fox was 
excluded. Pitt's position was one of extreme difficulty ; 
1 but he decided that at any cost he would supplant 
Addington's inefficient administration. This is no 
place to discuss the question as to whether he was 
right or wrong, but it is certain, at least, that he was 
actuated by none but patriotic motives. The result, 
however, was that the list of the new Ministers 
showed a deplorable number of nonentities ; and their 
weakness was not least conspicuous in the departments 
with which this history is chiefly concerned. Lord 
Chatham, most indolent of men, became Master - 
general of the Ordnance. Lord Camden, a nobleman 
of tried mediocrity, took charge of the War Office and 
Colonies. Henry Dundas, Lord Melville, succeeded 




i 804. St. Vincent at the Admiralty. The Home Office, more 
May. happily, was committed to Lord Hawkesbury, a man 
whose reputation is far below his deserts ; and, best of 
all, India was entrusted to one still greater and abler, 
Robert Stewart, Lord Castlereagh. On the other hand, 
the Opposition, headed by Fox, was rendered doubly 
formidable now that it had gained the uncompromising 
resolution of Grenville and the insight, eloquence, and 
wit of Windham. The parting of these men from 
Pitt, in a political sense, had not been friendly ; and 
the great Minister now found himself confronted no 
longer by a powerless though venomous minority, but 
by lost friends whose criticism was sharpened by the 
feeling that their late honoured leader had, ever since 
the Peace of Amiens, fallen below his reputation and 
forfeited their confidence. 

When at length Pitt was able to meet Parliament, 
June, his first business was to pass the Volunteer Consolida- 
tion Act, 1 the stormy career of which came to an end 
on the 5th of June. Of this it must suffice to say that 
by it the Volunteer Act of 1802 and the Billetting Act 
of 1 803 were repealed ; that Yeomanry were required to 
attend four days' drill and Volunteer Infantry eight 
days' drill every quarter to gain them exemption from 
the ballot for the Militia or any Additional Force ; 
that Volunteer Infantry assembled of their own will 
for permanent duty were subjected to military law, 
but not so Volunteer Cavalry or Yeomanry ; that 
no rules of any future corps were to be binding 
unless approved by the King ; that rules made in 
the past could be annulled by the same authority ; 
and that greater powers of discipline at large were 
granted to the Commanding Officers. Several trouble- 
some questions were thus finally set at rest, and 
means were assured for turning the chaos brought 
about by Addington's folly into some kind of order. 
But the original blunder in respect of the Volunteers, 
due as much to Pitt as to Addington, was for the 
1 44 Geo. III. cap. 54. 



present beyond correction ; and it was with the 1 
whole weight of this blunder round his neck that J 
Pitt grappled with the more serious problem of 
maintaining the Regular Army. 

The Army of Reserve Act had by this time died a 
natural death ; and it behoved Pitt to devise some new 
scheme which should replace it. The objects which he 
set before himself were sound and statesmanlike. First, 
the existing competition for recruits between the 
Regular Army and the multifarious forces designed for 
home service only must be ended, and the enormous 
height of bounties must, by this and other means, 
be brought low. Secondly, all obstacles in the way of 
establishing a Permanent Additional Force as a standing 
foundation for the maintenance of the Army must be 
done away. He had already sketched his device for 
attaining these ends in a speech on the 25th of April ; 
and on the 5th of June he introduced a Permanent 
Additional Force Bill which embodied his scheme in its 
maturity. In substance the bill was as follows : — First, 
the Militia of Great Britain would be reduced to its 
original quota of 1802, namely fifty-one thousand men. 
Next, the quotas of the Supplementary Militia and the 
Army of Reserve would be merged into one, making a 
total of seventy- nine thousand men. 1 This would 
provide a permanent reserve for the Army ; and 
machinery would be devised for making good any 
drains upon it to the extent of one-sixth, or thirteen 
thousand men, annually. The intention of his proposals 
was therefore excellent ; it remained to seek out the 
means for their fulfilment. 

In the first place, both the Army of Reserve and the 
Supplementary Militia were seriously short of their 
establishment, to the extent altogether of nearly twenty 

1 Army of Reserve for United Kingdom . . 49,880 
Supplementary Militia for Great Britain . . 29,071 

Total . 78,951 

Ireland had no Supplementary Militia. 

230 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

i 804. thousand men ; 1 and it was necessary to raise that 
June, number before the Permanent Reserve could be said to 
exist. In addition to these there must be levied also by 
the 1st of October 1805, the first annual instalment 
of one-sixth, which was modestly set down at eleven 
thousand men, to replace those who should have enlisted 
from the Reserve into the Army. On the whole, 
therefore, the scheme required thirty- one thousand 
men to be supplied within the ensuing fifteen months. 
How was this number to be obtained ? The ballot of 
1803, owing to the false principle of substitution, had 
produced only inferior men and a gigantic rise in 
bounties. Pitt resolved, therefore, to dispense with it 
altogether, and to call upon every parish of Great Britain 
for its quota of the number of men required. In brief, 
he threw the work of raising the levy upon the parochial 
officers. To preserve its local character he limited their 
range of recruiting to a distance of twenty miles around 
their parishes within the same county, or of ten miles 
in an adjacent county. To ensure that they should 
not compete with the recruiting parties of the Regular 
Army he restricted their bounty to twelve guineas, 
being three-fourths of that allowed *fo the Regulars, 
which was sixteen guineas. The parochial recruits were 
to be enlisted for home service only and for five years 
or until six months after the cessation of war, but were 
to be encouraged by a further bounty of ten guineas to 
take service with the Regulars. To stimulate the zeal 
of the parochial officers, they were to receive one guinea 
for every man that they produced, whereas if they 
failed in their new duty their parishes were to be 
mulcted in £20 for every man deficient of the quota. 
The fines thus collected were in the last resort to be 
paid to the general recruiting fund of the country ; and 
the commander of the battalion concerned was then to 

1 Deficiencies in Army of Reserve . . 12,477 
In Supplementary Militia . . . 7,305 

Total . 19,782 



fill the vacancy or vacancies in his regiment by ordinary 1 804. 
recruiting, paying the same bounty as that offered by June, 
the parish and no more. Finally the whole of the men, 
when raised, were to be formed into second battalions 
to the Regular regiments of the Army. 

The plan was bold and, if the expression may 
be used, conciliatory. The ballot had become very 
oppressive during 1803 : Pitt proposed to leave 
it unused. There had been loud complaints of the 
burden laid on the agricultural interest by parochial 
rates and fines under the Militia and Army of Reserve 
Acts : Pitt transferred the entire weight of the bounties 
under his new measure to the Imperial Treasury. 
Nevertheless, critics were not wanting to call into 
question every advantage expected from the measure. 
Windham prophesied that if any men at all were 
brought forward by the parochial officers, they would 
be purchased from the crimps. Another member 
predicted that the bill might produce money but would 
never produce men, and that, far from giving any 
relief to landed proprietors, it would inflict on them 
the equivalent of a doubled land-tax. Yet another 
pointed out that to offer a man £16 : 1 6s. to enter the 
Line directly, and £23 : 2 s. to enter it through the 
new force was on the face of it absurd. Lastly, Colonel 
Robert Craufurd condemned the whole plan as worth- 
less, advocating in its stead compulsory training for all 
men of a certain age, with short service and liberal 
pensions to tempt them to enlist voluntarily into the 
Line. Pitt, however, turning a deaf ear to any croak- 
ings of failure, stood up firmly for his bill, which on the 
29th of June was duly passed into law. 

Meanwhile the general preparations for defence 
against invasion progressed steadily towards perfection. 
Orders had already been issued on the 31st of October 
1 803 for the removal of all live-stock and provisions — 
"driving the country" as it was called — but this 
procedure, which had been first suggested in 1779, was 
so strongly opposed by such capable authorities as Sir 

232 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1804. John Moore and the Duke of Richmond that it was 
abandoned. Far more valuable was the Duke of York's 
recommendation, that among the vehicles registered 
under the First Defence Act, one light cart should be 
set apart and marked as regimental transport for each 
company of Volunteer infantry, and that waggons 
should likewise be marked, set apart, and provided with 
seats to convey the men from the remoter districts to 
any threatened point. Indeed, the organisation for 
speedy moving of troops was so far perfected that they 
could be readily concentrated in any quarter. The 
Volunteers and Yeomanry in each military district 
were also organised into brigades, and their brigadiers 
duly appointed. The quality of the levies steadily 
improved as more and more of them took their turn 
of permanent duty ; though their unwillingness to 
submit to any officers but their own made their dis- 
cipline, already a doubtful quantity, more uncertain 
than ever. 

Nor was fortification, permanent and temporary, 
forgotten. Addington's Ministry had already made a 
beginning in this matter by forming entrenched camps in 
chosen positions, as rallying points for die forces of each 
district ; but these, though, of course, designed by 
military men, did not always escape criticism from 
officers of the Army. Thus at Chelmsford there had 
been constructed at great expense, not a chain of 
detached works, but a single line of entrenchment. 
What, asked Robert Craufurd in the House of Commons, 
was the use of this ? No enemy would pause to attack it, 
but would push straight on to London ; and if the force 
in the camp closed in upon his rear, the enemy would be 
none the worse, for having no communications he could 
not be cut off from them. This challenge was answered, 
not very effectually, by General Thomas Maitland ; and 
the subject was allowed to drop. Pitt, however, infused 
far greater vigour into the work of fortifying the country, 
even riding about to inspect the works in person with 
an energy which Lord Grenville, no longer his supporter 



but now his critic, condemned as ridiculous. It is 1 804. 
difficult to say who was Pitt's principal adviser in such 
matters, for he seems to have been eclectic in his tastes. 
Some would have us believe that it was Dumouriez who 
was chiefly consulted by him ; and it is at least certain 
that Dumouriez, after many wanderings, settled in 
England in 1803, received a pension from Government, 
and produced a general scheme for the defence of the 
country. This, as he had planned a scheme of invasion 
in 1779, he claimed to be well qualified to do. But the 
military authorities, not unreasonably feeling some 
distrust of the man, declined to permit him to make a 
close military survey of any ground ; and since he was 
therefore compelled to rely wholly upon inaccurate 
maps for his premises, his conclusions must necessarily 
have been of doubtful value. Furthermore, amid much 
that is probably sound in Dumouriez's plans, there is 
such a wealth of what can only be described as nonsense, 
that it is impossible to suppose that they can have 
received much attention. 1 One costly work may, 
however, perhaps, be ascribed to the French General, 
namely the military canal from Hythe to Sandgate. 2 

1 Dumouriez's plans of defence have been recently published in 
Dumouriez and the Defence of England against Napoleon, by Dr. J. H. 
Rose and A. M. Broadley, together with a certain number of the 
projects which Dumouriez was eternally sending to the Government 
unasked, and which are to be found by the dozen scattered among 
the papers in the Record Office. Except in a few instances, which 
I shall duly point out, I cannot find that his advice carried much 
weight, nor can I think, after examination of a good many projets, 
that it deserved to do so. Dumouriez was no doubt a man of 
exceptional talent and in some respects an exceedingly able soldier ; 
but his vanity was portentous, his hold upon facts was never strong, 
and he was an inveterate schemer. I am unable, therefore, to accept 
the authors' valuation of Dumouriez, or their assurance that he 
rendered great service to this country. For the rest, > this book, 
together with the two bulky volumes entitled The Great Terror by 
A. M. Broadley and H. Wheeler, appear to have been published 
chiefly to call attention to a private collection of documents and 
caricatures ; for with space to contain much that would be of 
priceless value to a serious historian, they provide disappointingly little. 

2 But it appears from a letter from the Commander-in-chief to 
the Duke of Richmond that the canal, with its ultimate extension 



.. This was made in order to isolate the Romney marshes, 
where, according to Dumouriez, an invading force 
could otherwise have secured all the cattle and horses 
which fed on the marshes. But Pitt is more generally 
remembered by the martello towers, which were advocated 
by Craufurd among many other officers, and are still to 
be seen on the coast. Indeed it seems probable that 
Pitt leaned greatly upon Sir John Moore, whose good 
work at the camp of ShornclifFe came under his im- 
mediate notice while he was organising the forces 
of the Cinque Ports, and was thoroughly appreciated 
by him. 

Meanwhile Napoleon, since the 18th of May 1804 
Emperor of the French, remained throughout the year 
with his plans in a state of flux. He had realised that 
he could not throw his army across the Channel until 
his line-of-battle ships had cleared the way for him ; 
and having abandoned the idea of an invasion during 
the foggy nights of winter, he was inclined to take 
advantage of the calmer days of summer for the opera- 
tion. It was, however, essential first that the boats, 
which were building in every port of France should be 
concentrated in the harbours of the Channel ; and this, in 
the face of the British cruisers, was no easy matter. The 
flotilla in the Scheldt was strictly blockaded ; and though 
the Dutch Admiral Verhuell with considerable skill 
contrived more than once to baffle the vigilance of Sir 
Sidney Smith, and to bring vessels down by Ostend and 
Dunkirk to Boulogne, yet little was really accomplished 
by him owing to his want of seamen. At Havre the 
blockade was equally strict, and was varied by occasional 
bombardments which caused much alarm even if they 
did little damage. The passage to the Channel from the 
ports in the Atlantic was even more difficult, so closely 
did the British frigates watch every promontory and 
headland. It was necessary for French cavalry and 

to Cliff End in Sussex, was suggested by Sir David Dundas. H.O, 
Internal Defence, Duke of Richmond to C.-in-C, 1 3th Nov.; C.-in-C. 
to Duke of Richmond, 19th Nov. 1806. 



artillery on land to follow the course of the boats at sea 1804. 
in order to ensure their safety ; and in spite of aid from 
the troops and from countless batteries on the coast, 
only thirty-five vessels out of two hundred and thirty-one 
succeeded in reaching the Channel from the Ocean at all. 
Moreover, even when they did reach it, they were glad 
to put into the first port that they could find ; and from 
this cause there were in Boulogne nearly three times as 
many boats as had been allotted to that place. Nor 
were they safe even then, for the difficulties of leaving 
and entering the port had been little diminished by 
Napoleon's extensive improvements ; and a light gale 
was quite sufficient to throw the whole of the craft in 
the roadstead into confusion. 

On the other hand, the British attempts against 
Boulogne were one and all unsuccessful. Early in 
1804 Addington countenanced a plan from which 
great results were expected by the thoughtless. Three 
ships were to be filled with masonry, carefully built and 
clamped together, and having been run aground upon 
the shoal at the entrance to Boulogne were then to be 
burned, with the intention that the masonry should 
remain, block the mouth of the harbour permanently, 
and shut in the whole of the flotilla for ever. This 
brilliant idea emanated from a smuggler, by name 
Etches, who was supposed to know the navigation about 
Boulogne better than other men. Extensive prepara- 
tions were carried out, and an effort was actually made to 
put the plan into execution, with the help of a few light 
vessels of the Royal Navy. It need hardly be said that 
the entire project came to a ridiculous end, with the usual 
recriminations between the parties concerned therein ; 
the smugglers laying the whole of the blame upon the 
naval officers, who had viewed the proceedings with 
a surly contempt which was fully justified by results. 1 
Later in the year, on the 2nd of October, a more Oct. 2. 
sensible attack was made upon Boulogne by vessels 

1 The whole story is in W.O. Orig. Corres. 184, The Stone 



1 804. which were practically torpedoes ; but though five of 
them were exploded, the damage done was trifling. In 
fact, the most serious loss inflicted upon the flotilla at 
Boulogne was caused by Napoleon himself. In July he 

July, paid a visit of inspection to the port and ordered out 
the craft for a review. Admiral Bruix, seeing certain 
signs of the approach of bad weather, declined to obey ; 
and after a stormy scene, in which the two men nearly 
came to blows, Bruix was dismissed and the Emperor 
had his way. The result was that twenty or thirty 
craft were lost, and from fifty to two hundred men 
drowned. The whole affair was, of course, smothered 
under a mass of lies, as was Napoleon's manner ; but the 
experience can hardly have weakened his dislike for the 
naval profession at large. 

Meanwhile his sea- going fleets had made little 
progress during the summer of 1804. At Brest there 
were twenty-six ships paralysed by want of seamen ; at 
Isle d'Aix and Orient nothing had been accomplished ; 
and only at Toulon, under the impulse of Latouche 
Treville, eleven line-of-battle ships were slowly made 
fit for service. In May, and again in July, Napoleon 
had sketched speculative instructions *for the Toulon 
fleet, to which were appended the pompous words, 
" Let us be masters of the Channel for six hours, 
and we shall be masters of the world." But in 
August Latouche Treville died, and the Toulon fleet 
had achieved nothing. However, at the end of 

Sept. September Napoleon at last produced a more definite 
plan. According to this, the Brest squadron was to 
carry eighteen thousand men to Ireland, first going far 
to westward so as to approach it as if from Newfound- 
land ; it was then to enter the Channel so as to favour 
the passage to England of the flotilla from Boulogne, or 
failing this, to go to the Texel and escort twenty-five 
thousand men more to Ireland. At the same time the 
squadrons from Toulon and Rochefort were to sail to 
the West Indies with reinforcements, raid all the British 
islands, return to Ferrol to release the five ships 



blockaded there, and then, united, to put in to 1804. 

Napoleon's orders concerning the attack on Ireland 
went astray, and their purport reached the British 
Government, curiously enough, through the smuggler 
Etches. 1 Whether this happened by design of the 
Emperor or not is doubtful. All that is certain is that 
in October he renewed his orders to the squadrons at 
Rochefort and at Toulon to embark their troops at 
once, while nothing more was said as to the action of 
the Brest fleet. It seems, however, that the British 
Government now became more nervous about Ireland, 
which only in the previous year had been disturbed by 
the abortive insurrection of Robert Emmett. Dumouriez 
had dwelt with great emphasis upon the fact that it was 
the most vulnerable spot in the Empire ; wherefore, 
urging that there could be no safety in an attitude of 
passive defence, he had advocated attack upon the points 
from which an expedition might be expected to sail for 
Ireland, namely the ports of the Peninsula and the 
Scheldt. Whether moved by this counsel or not, 
Ministers in November consulted Sir John Moore 
as to the possibility of an attack upon Ferrol with 
twenty thousand men, alleging that in the opinion of 
the naval officers the destruction of the place by a coup 
de main would be an easy matter. Unable to find any 
warrant for this view in the papers laid before him, 
Moore undertook to reconnoitre the place secretly in 
person ; and, though prevented by the suspicions of the 
Spaniards from making any close survey of the defences, 
he was able at least to satisfy himself that Ferrol was 
fully prepared against attack. Upon his report, there- 
fore, the enterprise was abandoned. 

But in the interim the situation had again changed. 
Spain, equally afraid of France and of England, and 
longing only to remain perfectly neutral, had so far 
yielded to the stronger pressure of Napoleon that the 

1 Desbriere, iv. 199, calls him the Reverend Cadman Etches ; 
having apparently construed Rd. (Richard) to mean Reverend. 

2 3 8 


1804. British Government lost patience with her undisguised, 
though unwilling, inclination towards the French cause. 
On the 30th of September the capture of three 
Spanish plate-ships by Sir Graham Moore, the brother 
of Sir John, brought matters to a crisis. Napoleon 
seized the moment to stimulate Spain to open hostilities ; 
and after two months of hesitation the Court of 

Dec. 14. Madrid, on the 14th of December, declared war upon 
England. The Spanish fleet was therefore now at the 
disposal of Napoleon, though it was in no very efficient 
state. There were a few fine ships and a great many 
indifferent. Some were overburdened with an ex- 
cessive spread of canvas, others with an excessive 
weight of guns ; and seamen, owing to an epidemic 
in the Mediterranean ports, were extremely difficult to 
obtain. However, the ships were at any rate to hand ; 

1805. and on the 4th of January 1805 Admiral Gravina on 
Jan. 4. behalf of Spain and Decres on behalf of France signed 

a convention, under which at least twenty-five Spanish 
sail of the line and some seven thousand Spanish troops 
were to be ready by the 30th of March for a secret 
expedition. Meanwhile the squadrons at Toulon and 
Rochefort had embarked the troops assigned to them, 
and on the 12 th, 14th, and 23 rd they received their 
first instructions. Both were to break the blockade at 
the first opportunity, and sail for the West Indies. 
Villeneuve, with the Toulon fleet, after picking up 
three French ships from Cadiz, was first to reinforce 
the garrison of Cayenne, and then, dividing his squadron, 
to attack Surinam with one division and Demerara, 
Berbice and Essequibo with the other ; but in any case 
he was, within sixty days after his arrival at Surinam, to 
return to Ferrol, liberate the blockaded squadron there, 
and proceed with it to Rochefort. Missiessy with the 
Rochefort squadron was to sail straight to Martinique, 
capture Dominica and St. Lucia, and levy contributions 
upon the remaining British islands. Napoleon reckoned 
that Missiessy would be master of the Caribbean Sea for 
at least thirty days, which period he was to turn to the 


best possible account. Missiessy likewise was to make 1805. 
Ferrol his first port on his return. The Emperor also 
sketched a suggestion for the use of the Brest, Cadiz, 
and Ferrol squadrons, who were to descend upon Ireland 
on Villeneuve's reappearance ; but so far he had no 
thought of using his fleets in the Channel upon their 
return from the Antilles. Indeed, he seems to have 
had no design in the expedition to the West Indies 
beyond a plundering raid, which could have little or no 
influence upon the course of the war. 

Thus, to the disgrace of England, the French were 1804. 
actually the first to send an offensive expedition across 
the sea ; nor was the reason far to seek. The British 
after eighteen months of war, following upon a brief 
truce which had been preceded by ten years of another 
war, did not yet possess an Army. Addington was 
chiefly responsible for this, but Pitt also must bear 
some part of the blame, for his favourite scheme, the 
Permanent Additional Force Act, had proved a dismal 
failure. The parochial authorities, conceiving that 
funds and not men were expected from them, 
christened the measure the " Twenty Pound Act " and 
resigned themselves to pay their fines. According to 
the strict letter of the law, the twenty thousand men 
deficient in the Army of Reserve and Supplementary 
Militia were to have been raised by the 9th of August ; 
but there were symptoms in the country which led 
Ministers to inquire as to the progress of the levy. 
The answer from every county was uniformly the 
same. Not a man had been raised ; the areas of 
recruiting were too much restricted, the bounties to 
recruits too low, the rewards offered to parish officers 
too paltry. The Government extended the time for 
raising the men until the 1 5 th of November and issued 
circular after circular, half coaxing, half menacing, to 
stimulate the parochial authorities to their new duties ; 
but in vain. By the 1st of November fewer than eight 
hundred men had been enlisted, and of these a full 
eighth had deserted. Parliament met in January 1805, 



1805. and a motion was at once brought forward in the Lords 
for the repeal of the Act. The measure was defended by 
Lord Hawkesbury, who alleged that, under the spur of 
many circulars, the parishes had begun to move, and 
that the Act was now producing men at the rate of 
three hundred a week, or eleven thousand men a year. 
Upon this very inconclusive assurance the Lords 
rejected the motion for repeal ; but the attack was 

Feb. 2 1 . renewed in the Commons a week later by far more 
formidable critics ; and on the 6th of March Sheridan 
definitely moved the repeal of the Act. The motion 
was lost by a very large majority ; but the situation 
was serious ; and Pitt knew it. The casualties in the 
Regular Army for the first nine months of 1804 
exceeded the recruits gained during the whole year 
by over three thousand ; and Lord Grenville openly 
asserted in the House of Lords that the numbers of 
the Regular Infantry were actually smaller on the 1st of 
January 1805 tnan on ^ e Ist °f January 1804. If 
the war were to be conducted on such lines, the ruin 
of the nation could only be a matter of time. 

Pitt was the last man to trifle with such a situation. 
With his usual courage he looked fatts in the face, 

Mar. 31. and on the 31st of March brought in a bill to enable 
a number ~of men, equal to the actual strength of the 
Supplementary Militia in each county, to be enlisted in 
the Army. To attract recruits it was enacted that 
they should receive a bounty of ten guineas, should 
be allowed to choose their own regiments, and should 
not be drafted from them without their own consent ; 
and special provisions were inserted to reconcile the 
Colonels of Militia, as far as possible, to this weakening 
of their battalions. Under this Act about eleven 
thousand men passed into the Regular Forces between 
the 10th of April and the 26th of June, four-fifths of 
them into the infantry, and the remainder into the 
Marines. Pitt had named seventeen thousand men 
as the figure for which he had hoped ; but nine 
thousand were by no means to be despised, the less 


so as they were not raw but trained and disciplined 1805. 

Nor had Pitt's diplomacy been idle since his accession 
to office. At the outset of the war England had at 
once sought the friendship of Russia, which the Tsar 
Alexander was very ready to grant ; for he had dreams 
of constituting himself the protagonist of Europe 
against the Revolution and its representative, Bonaparte. 
Where Russia led there was good hope that Prussia 
would follow, her despicable King being very willing to 
attach himself to Alexander's skirts, though his greed 
for Hanover was such that he would have broken any 
faith to obtain it. Austria was also approached by 
Addington but would commit herself to nothing, which 
was not unnatural considering all that she had suffered 
during the last war. Napoleon, however, who was 
also on the search for allies, unwittingly forwarded 
England's interests. In the west he could gain what 
he wanted in many cases by threats. Holland and the 
Italian Republic were virtually French provinces and 
were treated as such. Spain he had intimidated, as has 
been told, into furnishing a large monthly subsidy until 
she should openly break with England ; and from 
Portugal also he had extorted a convention under 
which that helpless kingdom gave him money and 
commercial advantages as well as a promise of strict 
neutrality. Naples, likewise, he overawed, as we have 
seen, by an armed occupation. The lesser German 
states, Bavaria, Wiirtemberg, Baden, and Hesse, he had 
gained early in 1803 by allotting to them the con- 
fiscated property of the ecclesiastical states ; thereby so 
whetting the appetites of the princes who controlled 
them, that Bavaria proceeded to seize all the lands lying 
within her borders that were held directly of the 
Emperor Francis. The aggrieved owners appealed to 
Austria for protection, and the Emperor occupied 
all the immediate lordships (as they were called) 
both in Bavaria and Wurtemberg with troops. He 
withdrew them, however, upon a threat of invasion 




1804. from Napoleon; but from the end of 1803 he pre- 
pared quietly for war, and began to hope for alliance 
with England and Russia. After this affair Napoleon 
could hardly hope to gain Austria, and his main object, 
therefore, was to neutralise her by winning Prussia to 
his side. He had also made overtures to Russia, but 
without success, and by the execution of the Duke of 
Enghien on the 20th of March 1804, he alienated the 
Tsar beyond any hope of speedy reconciliation. 

Such was the state of affairs when Pitt returned to 
power. His great objects were three : to secure the 
neutrality of Holland ; to paralyse Spain by capturing 
her treasure-ships and stirring up revolt in her colonies, 
unless she either joined England or remained strictly 
neutral ; and to treat with Russia so as to draw Austria, 
Prussia, and Naples into a general war. The Tsar, 
who was already busily preparing to fight France, 
welcomed Pitt's proposals, and on the 24th of May 
invited Austria to concert operations with him ; but 
the Emperor Francis, wishing first to be sure of a subsidy 
from England before the war, and of an accession of 
territory after it, would not sign a formal alliance. 
Simultaneously Alexander turned to Prussia ; but King 
Frederick William was also averse from a treaty, 
hoping to gain Hanover by adroit mediation between 
Napoleon and the Tsar, which was as though a jay 
should mediate between an eagle and a condor. How- 
ever, he was so far alarmed by Napoleon's seizure of 
May 24. Cuxhaven and Hamburg that he came to a secret agree- 
ment with Alexander to resist any further encroachment 
of the French upon the North German states. There 
remained Sweden ; and here England was sure of King 
Gustavus the Fourth, who loathed the very name of 
Bonaparte, and used the proclamation of the French 
Empire as an occasion to exchange insults with him. 
A half-witted king, as England was later to discover, is 
not a very profitable ally ; but at the time it sufficed 
that he should keep open to her the port of Straisund. 
At the end of May 1804, therefore, matters had 



advanced thus far towards a Coalition, not without 1804. 
vigorous efforts on the part of Napoleon to check them. 
At Naples his threats extorted the dismissal of the 
English Minister, Acton, and the appointment of his 
own emissary, Alquier, in his stead. Prussia he surprised 
in the midst of her negotiations with Russia by a question 
whether King Frederick William would refuse a passage 
to Russian troops through Prussian territory, if it were 
demanded ; and he actually drew from the miser- 
able king a declaration that, unless the French en- 
croached further on the neutral states of Germany, he 
would close his frontier to any troops directed against 
them. To Austria Napoleon addressed a mixed language 
of hectoring and cajolery, first hinting at the coalition 
and threatening to crush it at once, then offering her 
Wallachia, Bosnia, and Servia in exchange for Venetia. 
For the moment Austria deferred to him, and sent 
assurances of peaceful intentions ; but at the beginning 
of October there was an open rupture of relations 
between France and Russia, and the Tsar, putting 
further pressure upon Austria, persuaded her to consent 
to an alliance ; the agreement being put into the form 
of a declaration, so that the existence of a treaty could 
be denied. Hereby Austria engaged to enter upon Nov. 6. 
military operations conjointly with Russia, in the case 
of any further augmentation of the French forces in 
Naples ; but Russia was to warn Naples not to provoke 
France thereto either by manifesto or insurrection. 

Finally, in November a special emissary from St. Nov. 16. 
Petersburg reached London, and on the 1 1 th of April 
1805 a Treaty between England and Russia was signed 
at the Russian capital. Its objects were defined to be 
the evacuation of Italy, Hanover, and North Germany 
by the French, the security of the Kingdom of Naples, 
the re - establishment of the King of Sardinia, and the 
independence of Holland and Switzerland. The means 
were to be half a million men, for which England was 
to pay at the rate of a million and a quarter sterling 
for every hundred thousand. Russia was to place 

2 4 4 


1805. eighty thousand men on the Austrian, and sixty- 
thousand on the Prussian frontier. Austria and 
Prussia were to be invited to join the alliance, and on 
agreeing to do so were to receive a million sterling 
apiece for the initial expenses of the campaign. Spain 
and Portugal were to be invited likewise to include 
themselves in the alliance within three months of the 
opening of active operations. The condition for pay- 
ment of the subsidies was that, within five months of 
the signature of the treaty, Russia and Austria, or one 
of them, should set her forces in action against France. 
Sweden was comprised in the agreement ; and mean- 
while she had already come to a separate arrangement 
with England, whereby, in return for an annual subsidy 
of j£ 60,00c), 1 the port of Stralsund and the Isle of 
Rugen were placed at the disposal of the British as 
military and commercial stations. 

Such was the storm that was gathering round 
Napoleon's head at the opening of 1805. He was not 
unaware of it, and was ready with counterblasts in 
every direction. He prepared to crush Austria if she 
did not disarm. He sent Marshal Junot to Portugal 
to demand the closing of her ports against the British 
and the expulsion of all British agents before the 22nd 
of March, on pain of immediate war ; and he hung out 
the crown of Portugal as a bait to attract Godoy, the 
actual ruler of Spain. He wrote letters to the Shah 
and to the Sultan of Turkey to stir them up against 
Russia. When Holland complained of the burden 
that was laid upon her, he transformed her into a 
March. French province. The Italian Republic he converted 
into a kingdom, first for his brother Joseph and, when 
Mar. 1 7. Joseph upon second thoughts refused it, for himself. 
If he could not persuade the really independent states 
to throw in their lot with him, he would at least make 
sure of his own vassals. 

Meanwhile his two fleets put to sea, Villeneuve from 
Jan. Toulon on the 18th of January, Missiessy on the nth 

1 Pierrepont to Sec. of State, 3rd Jan. 1805. 


from Rochefort. Villeneuve, meeting at once with 1805. 
heavy weather which seriously damaged three of his 
ships, put back to Toulon, with loud protests against 
sending ships to sea ill-fitted, undermanned, and en- 
cumbered with troops. 1 Missiessy, on the other hand, 
made a fairly good passage, and on the 20th of Feb. 20 
February arrived safely at Fort de France, Martinique, 
with his entire force of five ships of the line, five 
smaller vessels of war, and thirty-three hundred troops. 
In the British West Indies, General Myers, the com- 
mander-in-chief, had been sadly harassed by privateers, 
by the weakness of the British squadron both in quality 
and quantity, and above all by a sickly season, which had 
wrought special havoc in Dominica, Antigua, and St. 
Lucia. In the last-named island in particular the Sixty- 
eighth Regiment had lost over five hundred men dead 
and over one hundred and seventy invalided to Europe 
during the last six months of 1 804, 2 while in Myers's own 
staff, civil and military, twelve out of sixteen persons had 
perished. He had asked for reinforcements but none 
had yet arrived ; and Missiessy may therefore be said to 
have come at a good moment for himself. 

Obedient to his instructions, the French Admiral 
wasted no time, but on the 21st sailed for Dominica, 
and arriving off Roseau early on the 22 nd under British Feb. 21 
colours, was received by the harbour-master, who came Feb. 22 
aboard the flag-ship not doubting but that he was wel- 
coming the British Commodore. General Prevost, who 
was in command ashore, speedily perceived the mistake 
and opened fire from the batteries upon the French 
squadron. The bulk of the ships then remained in 
position before Roseau, while two small divisions parted 
from them north and south to cover the disembarkation 
of the troops. 

The landing-place selected by General Lagrange, 
who was in command of the French, was between two 

1 Desbriere, iv. 299-300. 

2 Gen. Myers to Sec. of State, 30th Sept., 14th Oct. 1804 ; 5th 
Jan., 10th Feb. 1805. 



1805. and three miles south of Roseau and a little to the 
Feb. 22. north of Point Michel; and at about seven in the 
morning nineteen barges full of troops made for the 
shore at this point, under protection of a schooner and 
of several boats armed with carronades. Prevost's 
entire force for the defence of the island consisted of 
about three hundred men of the Forty-sixth, a score 
of Royal Artillery, about four hundred of the First 
West India Regiment, and a few companies of Militia ; 
but even this handful of men he was compelled to 
divide between Roseau and Prince Rupert's Bay, the 
maintenance of the harbour at the latter point being 
vital to the safety of the island. However, he was 
resolved to contest every foot of ground ; and with 
three selected companies, one from each of his three 
corps, he drove back the first of the French boats. 
Two French ships then stood in shore to cover the 
disembarkation with their guns, whereupon Prevost 
withdrew the three companies further inland to a defile 
which defended the approach to Roseau. Then, rein- 
forcing them with two additional companies of Militia, 
more men of the Forty-sixth and two light guns, he 
handed the command of the whole tcHMajor Nunn of 
the First West India Regiment, with orders not to 
yield an inch of ground. The French thereupon 
landed over two thousand men and advanced with great 
impetuosity to the attack. But the position was strong ; 
Prevost's dispositions were good ; the detachment of the 
Forty-sixth, which did not exceed two hundred men, 
set a fine example ; and Nunn's tenacity was beyond 
all praise. The French column suffered much during 
its advance from the British artillery, especially from a i 
single gun so cunningly placed behind a wall that it j 
could only be approached in single file ; and a whole 
company of French grenadiers sacrificed itself, man 
after man, in a vain endeavour to capture it. At ten 
o'clock Nunn was mortally wounded, and the command 1 
passed to Captain O'Connell of the same regiment. He I 
also was wounded almost immediately, but remained in j 



the field until two o'clock, when the French, repulsed 1805. 
in repeated attacks with heavy loss, fell back out of Feb. 2 

Further north the French ships were retarded by 
contrary winds, but at nine o'clock they landed another 
strong detachment a mile and a half to north of Roseau 
at the foot of Morne Daniel. Prevost had but one 
hundred Militia at this point to oppose to over a 
thousand of the enemy ; but his handful of men 
attacked the boats gallantly as they came up through 
the surf, killing eight French soldiers and wounding 
several more, till they were driven from the beach by 
the guns of the men-of-war. There remained now 
only a small redoubt on Morne Daniel, which was 
defended by a sergeant of the Forty-sixth with four 
men of his own regiment, five of the West India, and 
a few Militia with a single three-pounder. This 
gallant little party fought desperately, inflicting much 
loss on the enemy until the ten men of the Regular 
troops had fallen, when the redoubt was carried by 
sheer weight of numbers. The French then landed 
two hundred men midway between their two points of 
attack ; and Prevost, observing them on the march to 
get into the rear of O'Connell, at about two o'clock 
hoisted the white flag. The French fire thereupon 
ceased, and Prevost, ordering the Militia to remain at 
their posts, directed the civil Governor to negotiate the 
capitulation of Roseau. He himself then drew off the 
whole of his Regular troops, white and black, and made 
a forced march with them along the whole length of 
the island to Rupert's Bay. So steep was the country 
and so rough were the tracks that the troops, carrying 
their wounded, took four days to accomplish the 
I journey ; but Prevost himself with two companies, by 
great exertion, reached Fort Cabril at Rupert's Bay in 
twenty -four hours, and at once made every pre- 
paration for a stubborn defence. With an adequate 
garrison, as he knew, the French were powerless to 
hurt him except by a regular siege. Thus though 



1805. Roseau was lost, Dominica and its precious anchorage 
were saved. 1 

This little affair was extremely creditable to all 
concerned on the British side. Prevost had evidently 
thought out his plan of operations in every detail, and 
though in a measure surprised by the French attack, 
was never for a moment at a loss. His officers also 
knew their duty and did it ; and of the many tiny 
detachments scattered along the batteries on the coast, 
every one with a single exception was safely brought in, 
without direct orders, to Rupert's Bay. One officer 
and seven gunners only were captured, and the losses 
of the Regular troops did not not exceed thirty-seven 
in killed and wounded. Those of the Militia are 
unfortunately unknown, but they were considerable, 
for this force behaved with admirable gallantry and 
spirit. The casualties of the French were reckoned 
by Prevost at about three hundred ; but the General's 
spirited defence produced more important consequences 
than the death or mutilation of French soldiers. 
General Lagrange had begged Missiessy to divide his 
squadron so as to attack Roseau and Rupert's Bay 
simultaneously, and Missiessy had refused ; so that 
when it was realised that Prevost had secured Fort 
Cabril, Lagrange felt anything but kindly disposed 
towards his naval colleague. The French squadron 
reconnoitred Rupert's Bay, but seeing that an attack 
upon it was hopeless, sailed first to Guadeloupe, and 
then to St. Kitt's, Nevis, and Montserrat, where 
Missiessy levied contributions and ransoms on a few 
captured ships. Returning thence to Martinique on 
Mar. 12. the 1 2th of March, he found new orders from 
Napoleon awaiting him. Their purport was that 
Villeneuve had been driven back by weather to 
Toulon, that his squadron had since been detailed 
for another service in a different quarter, that 
Missiessy was now to act independently, according 
to the spirit of his first instructions, and that Rochefort 
1 Prevost to Myers, 1st March, 1805 ; Desbriere, iv. 31 1-3 13. 

ch.viii HISTORY OF THE ARMY 249 

would probably be the safest port for him to make for 1805. 
on his return. 1 

Missiessy interpreted this as an order to visit St. 
Domingo and then return home. Admiral Villaret 
Joyeuse, Governor of Martinique, on the contrary, was 
urgent that he should first attack the Diamond Rock, 
which had been fortified and garrisoned by the British 
Navy as a thorn in the French side ; but Missiessy 
refused to listen to him, alleging that any such 
operation was contrary to the tenor of his instructions. 
On the 22nd of March, therefore, he sailed for the port Mar. 
of St. Domingo, which was then besieged by the rebel 
negroes, threw a reinforcement with supplies and stores 
into it, and on the evening of the 28th sailed for Mar. 
Rochefort. Myers, however, knew nothing certain of 
these movements and remained in the greatest anxiety. 
He had received a welcome reinforcement of three 
battalions 2 at Barbados on the nth of March, but in 
the presence of a superior French squadron he was at a 
loss to know how to distribute them. Commodore Hood 
was indeed collecting his ships at Deseada ; but with 
only one vessel of the line and a few frigates he could 
not hope to engage Missiessy. Moreover, a convoy 
from England carrying troops for Jamaica was known 
to be on the way ; and one straggling ship from it 
actually arrived at Barbados on the 27th of March, 
so that Myers could not tell what disaster might be 
impending. A little more enterprise on the part of 
Missiessy might have made things very uncomfortable 
for us at this time in the West Indies. 

It is now, however, necessary to forsake the Antilles 
for a moment in order to follow the fortunes of Ville- 
neuve. On the 16th of January, two days before that 
Admiral left Toulon, Napoleon had produced another 
plan, namely, that the squadrons from Brest, Rochefort, 
and Ferrol should embark twenty-two thousand men and 
sail to the East Indies. Since Missiessy had started on 

1 Decres to Missiessy, 27th Jan. 1805 ; Desbriere, iv. 313. 
2 The 15th, 90th, and 96th. 



1805. the nth with the Rochefort squadron, his participation 
in this wild expedition was impossible ; but when 
Villeneuve returned on the 22nd, he was ordered to 
refit his ships and re-embark his troops as speedily as 
possible for a new enterprise which, though the fact was 
not actually revealed to him, could only have been in the 
East. Evidently, therefore, with Missiessy detached on 
an independent service, and the remaining squadrons 
appointed for East Indian waters, the idea of invasion 
of England had been for the moment dropped. The 
attitude of Austria was, indeed, too threatening to 
permit of it. 

Towards the end of February, however, French 
relations with Austria had so far improved that Napoleon 
returned to his darling project ; and heartened by the 
assurance of full co-operation of the Spanish fleet, he 
Feb. 27. framed, on the 27th of February, his final plan. First, 
directions were sent to Missiessy to stay in the West 
Indies and await further order ; though these, not 
arriving until after the Admiral had sailed for Europe, 
were given to no purpose. Next, Admiral Ganteaume 
was ordered to weigh anchor at once with the Brest 
fleet — twenty-one ships of the line — release Vice-admiral 
Gourdon's squadron at Ferrol, and sail with it to 
Martinique, where he would take the squadrons of 
Missiessy and Villeneuve under his command, and with 
the combined fleets make for Ushant, attack the British 
vessels there, and proceed to Boulogne. If the com- 
bined fleets at Martinique were fewer than twenty-five 
ships of the line, Ganteaume was to return straight to 
Ferrol ; but he was authorised to wait thirty days at 
Martinique for the Toulon fleet. 

Supplementary to these orders, instructions were given 
to Villeneuve to sail to Martinique, unblockading Cadiz 
if necessary on the way, to take Missiessy under his 
command there, and to wait forty days for Ganteaume. 
If the last-named did not appear within forty days, 
Villeneuve was to return to Europe by way of St. 
Domingo, wait once again twenty days for Ganteaume 



at the Cape de Verde Islands, and put back from thence 1 
to Cadiz. 

This done, the Emperor drew up on the 23 rd of ]\ 
March and the following days the detailed orders for the 
embarkation of the invading force. But these were at 
once found to be impossible of execution. In Ney's 
corps two divisions had too many boats for their men 
and one division too many men for its boats, with the 
result that, upon the whole, over fifteen hundred men 
were left without any boats at all. In Soult's corps five 
thousand men were left without means of embarkation ; 
and altogether it was found that transport for twenty 
thousand men and for over five thousand horses was 
still wanting. Yet, when the matter was examined, it 
appeared that after all there were numbers of vessels to 
which no men had been assigned. But this was all part 
of the general confusion ; for though the total number, 
both of troops and boats, might correspond exactly, yet 
the distribution was so faulty that in some places there 
were too many craft for the men, and in others too 
many men for the craft. In fact, the boasted organisa- 
tion of the army flotilla of invasion existed only on 
paper, being, when reduced to practice, a very chaos. 
Napoleon had in fact wasted time and money irrecover- 
ably by adherence to his own ignorant methods in 
maritime matters, while neglecting the advice of his 
skilled and experienced naval officers. 

However, he had now set on foot a naval campaign 
upon a grand scale ; and it is necessary to see what opera- 
tions the British Government was contemplating at this 
same time. It must be premised that the Admiralty's 
great difficulty was to divine the service upon which the 
Toulon fleet was to be employed. By the occupation 
of the peninsula of Otranto and the ports at the heel of 
Italy Napoleon threw out a standing menace to the 
Mediterranean at large ; and the British Ministers were 
in constant apprehension as to the point where the blow 
would fall. Napoleon by admirable management 
contrived that the suspicions of Downing Street should 



1805. De turned entirely towards Egypt. He had spread 
constant reports of an Egyptian expedition during 
1802, which were greedily swallowed by General Sir 
John Stuart, at that time the Commander of our troops 
at Alexandria. 1 After the evacuation of the country by 
the British, again, the French agent at Cairo, M. de 
Lesseps, declared continually and with firm conviction 
that a French fleet was on its way to Alexandria to ask 
for a passage thence to the East Indies ; and Major 
Missett, the British agent left behind by Stuart, never 
ceased to urge the importance of sending a British force 
to avert such a catastrophe. 2 Lastly, Nelson, to whose 
vigilance the watch upon Toulon was entrusted, was 
firmly imbued with the idea that Egypt was Villeneuve's 
ultimate destination. 

But there were other objects besides Egypt within 
reach, most notably Sicily, the possession of which in 
French hands would have shaken, if not destroyed, 
British ascendancy in the Mediterranean. There was 
no counting upon the Court of Naples. The King, a 
degenerate Bourbon like his brother of Spain, was in- 
capable of any fixed resolution ; and the Queen was a 
false, dangerous, and scheming woman,-*vho was more 
likely than not to favour Napoleon if by so doing she 
could advance any small interest of her own. From the 
very outbreak of war Nelson had urged the occupation 
of Messina ; and Addington had given the Governor of 
Malta discretionary orders to employ two thousand men 
for the purpose, if Nelson and Mr. Hugh Elliot, the 
resident at Naples, should ask for them- 3 The Court 
of Naples, however, would not hear of permitting the 
British to protect Messina for them, dreading, according 
to Nelson, the jealousy of the Russians at Corfu rather 
than that of the French. Yet at any moment the King 

1 W.O. Egypt, 346 ; Stuart to Sec. of State, 20th Jan., 26th 
Oct. 1803. 

2 W.O. Egypt, 346 ; Missett to Sec. of State, 25th Aug. 1803 ; 
25th, 26th Jan., 27th Feb., 2nd, 16th March, 28th May 1804. 

3 Nelson to Addington, private, 28th June 1803 ; Nelson to 
Hobart, 22nd Dec. 1803. 

ch. viii HISTORY OF THE ARMY 253 

might be compelled to fly from Naples to Palermo ; and 1 
the internal state of Sicily was as bad as it could be, 
with an oppressive nobility, an enraged middle-class, and 
not so much as a company of troops. When, therefore, 
Villeneuve broke the blockade in January 1 805, Ministers 
took the peril to heart and resolved to strengthen the British 
garrisons in the Mediterranean before it was too late. 

Accordingly towards the end of March Lieutenant- 
general Sir James Craig received orders to take four 
battalions together with a small detachment of cavalry 
and artillery to Malta, and to assume command in the 
whole of the Mediterranean excepting Gibraltar. The 
principal object of his force was to be the protection 
of Sicily, and this object he was to fulfil with or 
without the consent of the King of Naples, but always 
in his name. If that potentate had gone so far as to 
exclude British ships from his ports, then Craig was to 
take possession of Sicily for King George ; but if the 
French had invaded it, or threatened invasion, he was 
to dislodge them or repel them, according to circum- 
stances, in the name of King Ferdinand. As regarded 
the further destination of the force, it was necessary to 
keep several contingencies in view. The Russians were 
preparing to attack the French in the Mediterranean, 
and might drive them from the Neapolitan dominions ; 
or again the French might attack Naples before Sicily, 
and the Russians might call upon the British for assist- 
ance. In either case Craig might co-operate with the 
Russians, if summoned either by Elliot or by the 
Russian commander, putting himself under the orders 
of the latter if the foreigner were his superior in rank. 
Yet again the French might attack Turkey, in which 
case the occupation of Alexandria might be necessary ; 
or, as Nelson dreaded, they might turn their arms against 
Sardinia and block the way to the Levant. For these 
cases no special instructions were given ; but they were 
indicated to show the possible scope of Craig's duties- 1 

1 W.O. Entry Book, 52, Sec. of State to Craig, most secret, 28th, 
29th March 1805. 

254 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xm 

1805. Craig, accordingly, sailed on the 17th of April, 
April 1 7. carrying with him two battalions for Gibraltar besides 
the troops assigned to his own command. The whole of 
them filled thirty-seven transports, which were escorted 
by a small squadron of three ships under Rear-admiral 
Knight. But meanwhile Villeneuve had slipped out of 
Mar. 30. Toulon on the 30th of March with eleven sail of the 
line and eight smaller ships of war, carrying in all 
over three thousand troops besides the crews. He was 
seen by two British frigates ; but obtaining by good 
luck intelligence that Nelson was at Palma, on the 
south-west coast of Sardinia, he shaped his course to 
evade him by hugging the coast of Spain. At Car- 
thagena Villeneuve found six Spanish ships of the line, 
which were placed at his disposal by their commanders ; 
but he decided to leave them behind, and profiting by 
a favourable wind, passed the Straits of Gibraltar on 
April 9. the 9th of April. Arrived before Cadiz, he dispersed 
the blockading force under Sir John Orde, and liberat- 
ing Admiral Gravina's squadron, hurried on without 
waiting to incorporate it with his own. Orde fell 
April 30. back to the Channel fleet ; and on the 30th of April 
Admiral Knight, being at the moment off Finisterre 
with Craig's army under convoy, learned to his great 
dismay that the Toulon fleet was at large. The 
Admiralty had written to Nelson on the 15th of 
April to provide for the safety of Knight and his 
charge on their passage from Gibraltar eastward ; but 
the Board had never dreamed, apparently, that the 
convoy might be cut off before it reached the Rock. 
Unaware that Villeneuve was hastening westward with all 
May 7. speed, Craig was much alarmed ; and on the 7th of May 
the convoy, with the exception of two transports which 
had parted company, took refuge in Lisbon. Not 
knowing whether the French and Spanish squadrons 
might not attack him even there, Craig made every 
preparation to land, seize the Portuguese forts and 
turn the guns upon the enemy's ships. It was a 
desperate expedient and by no means in accordance 

ch.viii HISTORY OF THE ARMY 255 

with the so-called law of nations; but men must not 1805. 
be too hardly judged when they find themselves, by 
no fault of their own, thrust unexpectedly into a 
false position. 

Meanwhile Nelson, on receiving news of Villeneuve's 
departure, had made at first for Sicily ; and it was not 
until the 19 th of April that he ascertained that the April 1 
French Admiral had passed the Straits of Gibraltar. 
Nelson then followed him, much delayed by foul winds 
and greatly apprehensive lest Craig's force might have 
come to disaster. On this point, however, he was 
presently satisfied. Owing to the protests of Junot, 
the French Ambassador at Lisbon, Knight was com- 
pelled on the 10th to remove his convoy from that May 1 
port, and on the following day he fell in with Nelson May 1 
off Cape St. Vincent. Nelson thereupon made his 
decision, reinforced the convoy by one line-of-battle 
ship, and sailed straight for Barbados ; while Craig 
pursued his way safely to Gibraltar. 

Upon the first news of Missiessy's appearance in 
the West Indies the Admiralty had ordered Admiral 
Cochrane thither. On the 3rd of April that officer April 3 
reached Barbados with five ships of the line and three 
frigates. Thence, after adding to this squadron Hood's 
flag-ship the Centaur^ he sailed away to leeward on the 
5th in pursuit of the French Admiral. For more than April 5 
a month General Myers at Barbados waited anxiously 
for news of his success ; and then there came on the 
13th of May a warning from England that a large May i- : 
French fleet had been seen off Cadiz. This was 
followed on the 18th by a report from Martinique itself May iS 
that a fleet of twenty-nine sail in all, with the flags 
of one Spanish and two French admirals among them, 
were coming into Fort de France. " Of course none 
of the islands are safe for long with the enemy so 
strong here," wrote Myers. " A more deplorable 
force than our Militia in Barbados was never 
seen." He prepared, therefore, for the worst, never 
doubting that Napoleon's object was to harry the 



1805. whole °f ^ e British West Indies. The British 
Government also interpreted the mission of Villeneuve's 

May 1 8. fleet in the same sense; and on the 18 th of May- 
ordered Sir Eyre Coote to take command of some 
seven thousand troops, 1 and to sail with them at once 
to the rescue of the British islands. Nevertheless, 
if the French movements should prove to be a feint 
only, Myers was ordered to send these troops back 
again ; and even if Villeneuve should have captured an 
island or two, it was left to the General's discretion to 
decide whether he should recapture them at once or 
send Coote's force to Halifax to await the healthy 
season. The appalling experience of 1793 to 1795 
had not been wholly thrown away upon Pitt ; and he 
was not prepared again to squander soldiers by the 
ten thousand in fighting over sugar-plantations. Still 
it was a time of anxious suspense for the authorities at 
Whitehall as well as in the Antilles, for the West 
Indian merchants were powerful, and a destructive 
raid upon their cherished property would have damaged 
the Government greatly. 2 

Napoleon's plans, however, had been but imperfectly 
realised. Villeneuve's squadron witk five thousand 

May 1 4. troops on board had indeed arrived on the 14th at 
Martinique, where three of his missing Spanish ships 
had anchored before him ; but Ganteaume had failed 
to make his escape from Brest. On the 24th of 
March, when only {iftcQti British vessels were blockad- 
ing him, he had asked permission to go out and fight 
them with his own fleet of twenty-one, but Napoleon 
forbade him. Within the next few days the British 
fleet was reinforced, and Ganteaume, after a vain 
attempt to put to sea on the 27th, retired once more 
on the 29 th within the inner harbour. Villeneuve, of 
course knowing nothing of this, set himself to wait 

1 The 8th, 24th, 32nd, 38th, 62nd, 71st, 72nd, 83rd, 89th, 
and 93rd Infantry of the Line ; in all 6493 rank and file ; besides 

2 Myers to Sec. of State, 14th, 18th, 24th May ; Sec. of State 
to Myers, 18th, 25th May 1805. 


ch.viii HISTORY OF THE ARMY 257 

patiently for Ganteaume's arrival, according to his 1805. 
orders. He projected vaguely an attack upon Dominica, 
as the nearest island to Martinique, but finally re- 
duced his offensive operations to the recapture of the 
Diamond Rock, a tiny islet which had been occupied 
by the British in order to harass the French merchant- 
men. On the 30th there reached him a frigate, and 
on the 4th of June two line-of-battle ships and eight June 4. 
hundred additional troops under Admiral Magon, 
bringing final orders from Napoleon dated the 14th 
and 17 th of April. These were to the effect that 
Villeneuve was to wait thirty-five days after Magon's 
arrival for news of Ganteaume, and, if he received 
none, that he should return at once to Ferrol, release 
and take under his command the fifteen French and 
Spanish vessels blockaded there, proceed with them to 
Brest, and having set Ganteaume also free, sail with 
the united force to the Channel. Meanwhile he was 
to capture St. Lucia, Dominica, and as many other 
islands as possible ; but due arrival before Boulogne at 
the appointed time was the duty above all imposed 
upon him. There he would find the Emperor in 
person ; and the fate of the world would depend upon 
the punctuality of his coming. 1 

At last therefore it had occurred to the Emperor to 
turn his raid upon the West Indies into a feint which 
should give him the mastery of the Channel ; but on 
the 2nd of June Admiral Cochrane, having ascertained June, 
that Missiessy had sailed for Europe, returned with his 
ships to Barbados ; and on the very day on which 
Villeneuve received his new orders, Nelson likewise 
put into Carlisle Bay with his fleet. By the addition June 4. 
of Cochrane's vessels Nelson saw his force raised to 
twelve ships of the line ; and though the French fleet 
counted half as many again, neither he nor Myers had 
an idea of remaining idle with such strength at their 
disposal. Myers's latest intelligence reported, falsely, 
that Villeneuve's fleet had been seen heading for 
1 Desbriere, iv. 513-515. 




1805. Trinidad ; and he at once proposed to Nelson to 
embark two thousand troops and sail to the relief of 
the threatened island. 1 The Admiral eagerly complied ; 
June 5. and early on the morning of the 5th the armament 
departed. On the 6th it passed Tobago, on the 7th 
Trinidad, and on the 9th Grenada, and found all safe ; 
but off the island last named a British man-of-war 
brought the news that the French had passed Rupert's 
Bay on the morning of the 6th. Nelson at once stood 
June 12. over to Antigua and ascertained on the 12th that the 
French had passed Antigua on the 8th, steering north ; 
whereupon he promptly dropped Myers and his troops, 
and sailed in pursuit. With bitter disappointment 
Myers saw him go, for he had looked to a campaign 
with Nelson as the happiest chance of his life ; and 
the great Admiral had been so much struck with the 
spirit of the General and of his troops that he had 
written with his own hand a letter in warm com- 
mendation of both. 2 

Thus within, not thirty-five, but fourteen days of 
Magon's arrival Villeneuve had taken hasty flight. He 
had already written to Paris on the 1st of June that the 
state of his supplies did not permit him to carry out 
the new instructions received through Magon ; but 
nevertheless he had made some show of activity, so that 
the information of Myers was not altogether at fault. 
On the 5 th of June Villeneuve had stood over to 
Guadeloupe to embark additional troops for an attack 
upon Barbados ; on the 6 th he had sailed for the Bar- 
bados with close on nine thousand soldiers ; and on the 
8th he had captured fourteen merchantmen to leeward 
of that island. But from them he learned of Nelson's 
arrival and of his junction with Cochrane ; and this 
was enough for him. After consultation with Gravina, 

1 The force consisted of the 15th, the 96th, and detachments of 
the 4th and 6th W.I.R. with artillery, altogether 2024 of all 
ranks, nearly 600 of which were black troops. 

2 Myers to S.S. 3rd, 4th, 12th June ; Nelson to S.S. nth June 



he decided to send his troops back to Martinique in 1805. 
frigates, and to take his own fleet straight to Ferrol ; and 
on the 10th he finally turned his back upon the West June 10. 
Indies. Nelson, as we have seen, followed hard after 
him, sending warning both to England and to the 
British squadron before Ferrol. 

In England, of course, nothing was known of all this. 
The War Office, upon the news of Missiessy's return to 
Europe, had counter- ordered the despatch of Coote ; 
but on hearing of Villeneuve's arrival in the West 
Indies, it decided again on the 5th of July to send him July 5. 
with four battalions only to Barbados, so as to provide 
for the safety both of that island and of Jamaica ; the 
latter being suspected to be the object of the French 
attack. It was a small force for the purpose, but the 
season was a very deadly one, and the Government 
would not risk the loss of more. On the 8th of July, July 8. 
however, intelligence of Villeneuve's departure for 
Europe reached London ; and Coote's sailing was again 
delayed until further orders, though the troops were 
still kept on board their ships at Cork to prevent 
desertion. Such, indeed, was the loathing and dread of 
West Indian service that several men jumped over- 
board and swam ashore to escape it. Finally, on the 
26th of July Coote received an intimation that the July 26. 
troops were required for a different object ; and the 
idea of extraordinary military reinforcement for the 
West Indies was abandoned. 

As to naval reinforcement, it has already been told 
how the Government sent Cochrane westward im- 
mediately upon hearing of Missiessy's destination, and 
how Nelson followed Villeneuve to the Antilles upon 
his own initiative, though with the full approval of the 
Admiralty. On the first intelligence of Villeneuve's 
departure from Toulon there had been great alarm lest 
he should release the blockaded squadrons at Cadiz, 
Ferrol, and Brest, and enter the Channel to cover an 
invasion from Boulogne. " During the week just past," 
said the Morning Chronicle, " no one has slept in 



1805. peace/' The Government, however, had early intelli- 
gence of Villeneuve's true destination ; and on the 27th 
April 27. of April the squadrons of Collingwood and Orde were 
ordered to meet at Madeira and pursue the French fleet. 
Lord Gardner took upon himself to delay this move- 
ment, which was cancelled when it was certainly known 
that Nelson had sailed to Barbados ; and on the 1 6th 
of May the Sun newspaper commented with satisfaction 
upon this, remarking that the departure of Villeneuve 
westward might well be a feint to draw the English 
fleet after him to the West Indies, while he doubled 
back to appear in force in the Channel. Admiral 
Decres called Napoleon's attention to this in a letter of 
June 1. the 1st of June ; 1 but the Emperor none the less kept 
multiplying impossible instructions to Villeneuve as to 
junction with the fleets at Cadiz, Ferrol, and Brest, 
all with a view to securing a few days' control of the 
Channel. " If," he wrote on the 8th of May, " your 
presence makes us masters of the sea for three days 
before Boulogne, we shall have every chance of 
forwarding our expedition of one hundred and fifty 
thousand men embarked in two thousand vessels." In 
vain Decres urged that these junction© of fleets were 
not so easily effected, that winds and tides might well 
prevent them, and that Nelson would infallibly hang on 
to Villeneuve's skirts wherever he might go. The 
Emperor answered only that the mind of Decres was 
too small for great operations, and continued to frame 
vague and speculative plans. However, as none of the 
Emperor's letters of this period ever reached Villeneuve, 
no great result could follow from them. 2 On both sides j 
June, of the Channel throughout the month of June the j 
directors of the naval operations were at fault for lack of { 
information. In England, indeed, there seems to have 
reigned a curious sense of security, which on the 28 th 
of June called forth a remarkable warning from 

1 Desbriere, iv. 596. 

2 Decres to Napoleon, 1st June ; Napoleon to Decres, 6th June ji 
1805 ; Desbriere, iv. 596, 602. 

ch. viii HISTORY OF THE ARMY 261 

Colonel Robert Craufurd in the House of Commons. 1805. 
The danger of invasion, he said in effect, was not yet 
over. The French fleet after a raid in the West 
Indies might return unexpectedly, gain temporary 
superiority in the narrow seas, take possession of the 
Downs, and bring over Napoleon's immense army of 
invasion. The Secretary at War, William Dundas, 
greeted the suggestion with a smile, to which Craufurd 
replied by asserting that such a plan had certainly 
been suggested by de Bouille to Count de Grasse before 
the latter encountered Rodney in 1782. 1 There can 
therefore be no doubt that Napoleon's much vaunted 
scheme of naval operations was not so subtle but that 
it could be penetrated both by journalists and military 

In July the situation began to clear itself up. On 
the 9th the British Admiralty received intelligence of July 9. 
Villeneuve's departure from the West Indies ; on the 
19th Nelson, having outstripped his quarry, arrived July 19- 
at Gibraltar, and, finding no news of Villeneuve, 
anchored on the 21st at Tetuan for rest. A day later, July 21. 
Villeneuve with twenty ships encountered the fifteen July 22. 
vessels of Sir Robert Calder's fleet about fifty leagues 
west of Ferrol, and after an indecisive action, which cost 
him the loss of two Spanish ships, entered Vigo on the 
27th. Finding no instructions or information there, July 27. 
he left three crippled ships in the port and sailed for 
Ferrol, but in obedience to orders received from France, 
anchored on the 2nd of August at Coruna, with his Aug. 2. 
crews very sickly and his fleet generally in a miserable 

Now for the first time he could form some idea of the 
course of events and of his master's matured plans, for 
so far he had received no intelligence of later date than 
I the 3rd of May. First he was informed that Admiral 
Gourdon at Ferrol had been instructed to move to 
1 Coruna. He was therefore ordered to add this force to 
his own, which having done, he was to pick up either 
1 H.D. v. pp. 668-669. 



1805. the Rochefort squadron or the Brest squadron, and 
manoeuvre to gain the mastery of the Channel for four 
or five days. If through any cause unforeseen circum- 
stances had altered the situation, he was to release the 
squadrons at Rochefort and Ferrol only, and anchor 
with them by preference at Cadiz. In comment upon 
these orders it must be mentioned that Gourdon had 
found it impossible to move from Ferrol to Corufia, 
that a wind which was fair for ships leaving Coruna 
was foul for ships leaving Ferrol ; and that the Rochefort 
squadron, under Admiral Allemand, who had superseded 
Missiessy, had put to sea on the 1 6 th of July. Allemand 
had vague instructions to make a raid upon Ireland so 
as to draw off some of the British ships from before 
Brest, and then to slip away, join Gourdon not earlier 
than the 3rd of August or, failing that, wait at an 
appointed rendezvous at sea until the 13th of August. 
Aug. 3. However, poor Villeneuve wrote dutifully on the 3rd 
of August that he would try to enter Brest or evade the 
British and enter the Channel, if he saw any chance of 
success, but in the contrary event would put into 
Cadiz. He then sent out a frigate to find Allemand 
and, waiting till the 8 th for its retuTn, received the 
news that Nelson had arrived at Gibraltar on the 20th 
and sailed out into the Atlantic again on the 26th of 
July. The frigate never returned, having been cap- 
Aug. 13. tured by a British ship, and on the 13th Villeneuve 
picked up the squadron at Ferrol, which increased his 
fleet to twenty-nine ships in all, and again put to sea. 

Meanwhile Napoleon had continually reiterated his 
orders to him, to release the various French fleets from 
Cadiz to Brest and proceed to Boulogne. " Make me 
master of the Channel for the space of but three days," j 
he wrote on the 26th of July, " and with God's help I 
will put an end to the career and existence of England. 
. . . One hundred and fifty thousand men are embarked 
in two thousand vessels." On the 3rd of August the 
Emperor betook himself to Boulogne in person, and 
then for the first time he learned not only of Villeneuve's 


return to Vigo, but of Nelson's arrival in European 1805. 
waters also. On the 1 3th of August he ordered Decres 
to censure Villeneuve's inaction ; at the same time 
directing the force in Holland to make a feint of 
sortie in its transports, in order to keep twelve British 
ships employed. He was now very anxious for an 
action to be fought off Ferrol, and gave Villeneuve 
positive orders to attack the British fleet if it did not 
exceed twenty-four ships. All this was useless. After 
two days' battling against northerly winds, Villeneuve 
on the 15th turned southward and put into Cadiz. Aug. 1 
On the same day Nelson joined the Channel fleet 
before Brest, bringing it up to a total of thirty-nine 
sail, so that, had Villeneuve persisted in making his 
way northward, he would have been beaten. And 
even if the French admiral had reached Boulogne 
triumphantly, Napoleon would not have had one 
hundred and fifty thousand men ready to cross the 
Channel ; for at no time had he more than ninety 
thousand men assembled at the ports of embarkation. 
The truth is that the great plan had failed at all 
points, and that the Emperor knew it. 

Since the middle of July, too, the attitude of Austria 
had become more and more menacing. On the 9 th of Aug. 9 
August that power formally joined the alliance with 
Russia and England ; and on the 1 3th, the very day on Aug. 1 
which Napoleon ordered Villeneuve to be rebuked for 
inaction, he informed Talleyrand that he had suspended 
the invasion of England in order to defend his southern 
frontiers. He still continued to write stimulating letters 
to Villeneuve. " Lose not a moment, but enter the 
Channel with my united fleets," so ran one of the 22nd Aug. 2 
of August, " England is ours ; we are quite ready, and 
everything is embarked. Come only for twenty-four 
hours and all is over." Yet on this very same day he 
gave his first orders for the army to break up and march 
upon Ulm ; and by the 1st of September not a man Sept. 1 
was left at Boulogne. Other letters followed, containing 
unfair censure of Villeneuve ; and yet others implying 



1805. that the flotilla had been from beginning to end no 
more than a feint. All of this was nothing but clumsy- 
lying, designed to cover the Emperor's own blunders. 
Historians will debate for ever the question whether 
Napoleon really intended to invade England or not. 
Personally I have no doubt that he did so intend, pro- 
vided that he could see any reasonable chance of trans- 
porting a sufficient force across the Channel. It was 
one of the dreams of his life, to which he constantly 
reverted, even as was the wild project of an invasion of 
India. The man was continually conjuring up attractive 
visions of conquests over the sea, and amusing himself 
and distracting his officials by executing them upon 
paper. Twice he endeavoured to realise them, in 
Egypt and in St. Domingo, and on each occasion the 
attempt ended in disastrous failure. In the case of 
England, he might have gone nearer to success had he 
not wasted untold sums in building boats of the wrong 
kind, according to his own untutored ideas, and had he 
acknowledged more fully his complete ignorance of all 
naval matters. The true secret of the flotilla is 
probably to be found in his passionate impatience of 
making war without the possibility- of taking the 
offensive ; and it must be freely confessed that he 
successfully reduced the feeble Addington to a 
passively defensive attitude. At least, therefore, he 
should receive credit for having scared a British Govern- 
ment into the most foolish and futile preparations 
conceivable for an effective war. 

The further problem of the failure or success of an 
invasion, had Napoleon succeeded in passing a large 
force across the Channel, must remain insoluble. 
Without details as to the number of men disembarked, 
the place of landing, the time of disembarkation, and, 
above all, of the warning received of his coming, all 
speculation is useless. In the early winter of 1 803 his 
chances would not have been bad ; but in 1 804, and 
still more in 1805 they would have been less promising. 
By that time the people knew what they must do, and 

ch.viii HISTORY OF THE ARMY 265 

were prepared to do it. The positions for rendezvous 1805. 
and for defence had been chosen, and effective measures 
had been taken for concentrating large bodies of troops 
at the point of attack. The general tactics of defence 
had also been thought out. The invaders were to be 
confined as far as possible to a narrow front and 
perpetually harassed in flank and rear, a task which the 
British superiority in cavalry would have made easy. 
The best Generals in the Southern District, Sir David 
Dundas and Sir John Moore, had fully made up their 
minds to retreat to a flank if defeated, so as to make 
pursuit the more difficult and hazardous. If Napoleon 
had succeeded in reaching London, his task would not 
have been done, for every provision had been made for 
transporting the seat of Government to Worcester ; and, 
with the stout old King to show an example, there 
would have been no talk of surrender. Once in 
London, the French Army would probably have taken 
leave of all discipline for a time ; the sick list would 
have been enormous ; and the force must have been 
much scattered to secure the entrance to the Thames 
and the capital at large. Moreover, after a few months, 
supplies would have failed ; and it would then have been 
necessary to procure grain and forage, by sending out 
armed parties which would certainly have been attacked 
and probably defeated in detail. Upon the whole, if 
the French Army had managed to get into England, 
it could never have got out again. The capture of 
London would not have been such a death-blow as 
it would now be ; and, though the loss and suffering 
to England would have been enormous, it is probable 
that an army of Russians and Austrians would have 
made France suffer even more. 1 Thus a successful 
disembarkation of a French army in England might well 
have abridged the troubles of Europe by ten years, 
for it is hardly possible that the rule of Napoleon could 
have survived it. 

1 But Napoleon himself thought that if he captured London no 
one in Europe would dare to move. Marmont, Memoir es, ii. 216. 


1805. The dread of invasion was past. The Third Coali- 
tion was come into full play ; Napoleon's columns 
were streaming away towards the Danube, and the time 
was fully ripe for England to take the offensive. 
Pitt, before he came into office, had sketched the spheres 
of employment for the troops of the various nations. 
The Neapolitans, ten or fifteen thousand British, and as 
many Russians were to be employed in South Italy, 
the Austrians and sixty thousand more Russians in 
Northern Italy. Forty thousand Russians, with a body 
of Hanoverians and the Swedish Army in Northern 
Germany, were to advance towards Holland, where 
a second British force would make a differsion. 1 

Here, as usual, may be observed Pitt's incurable 
failing — the passion for frittering England's little force 
away in minute divisions, instead of keeping it united 
at a single point. As has been seen, he had already 
sent a force to the Mediterranean with Craig, a de- 
tachment so puny as to call forth strong censure from 
the House of Commons. " The force is unnecessarily 
strong for the defensive," was Robert Craufurd's 
criticism, " and too weak to take the offensive." 
Napoleon was openly and justly contemptuous. " The 
celebrated secret expedition," he wrote, " entered Lisbon 
on the 7 th of May and left it on the 10th. Whither 
is it bound ? ... If it is destined for Malta, all the 
better. Nothing can better prove the folly of the 
English Cabinet ; for these combined Continental move- 
1 Stanhope, Life of Pitt, iv. 223-225. 


ments founded on a few thousand men are pygmy 1805. 
combinations. If, therefore, you find the expedition is 
gone to Malta, you may rub your hands, for the 
English will have deprived themselves of six thousand 
men and of a certain number of ships." 1 

During June and July, while the British and French 
fleets had been restlessly moving from side to side of 
the Atlantic, Craig's position had been an anxious one. 
The naval operations had reduced the escort of his forty 
transports to a single frigate and a sloop ; and when 
the armament reached Gibraltar, it was met by a May 13. 
command to halt there until further order. Rear- 
admiral Knight dared not keep the ships at anchor 
for fear of the Spanish gunboats at Algeciras. For 
six weeks, therefore, the convoy cruised on and off 
Gibraltar in anxious suspense, until at last on the 22nd June 22. 
of June Rear-admiral Bickerton received directions to 
furnish ships sufficient to bring it safely to Malta. 
Even then the passage was delayed by a gale ; and it 
was not until the 18th of July that Craig finally carried July 18. 
his detachment into Valetta. 

In the meanwhile the British Government had ordered 
him to consider the feasibility of an attack upon 
Minorca ; and the General was able to report that, 
though the garrison of the island had been raised to 
five thousand men, these could only defend themselves 
by meeting his own six thousand in the field, and that 
therefore the enterprise offered no great difficulty. 
On arriving at Malta, however, he found that Ministers 
had after all pushed forward their original project for 
British co-operation with Russia on the mainland of 
Italy. A letter from General Lascy, the Russian 
Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean, was awaiting 
him, asking what force he could spare for active 
service ; and as this had been written from Naples on 
the 9th of July, it was clear that the court of King 
Ferdinand had for the present decided to throw in its 
lot with the Coalition. Moreover, before long there 
1 Corres. de Napoleon, 8787. 

268 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1805. reached Craig a further letter from London, to say that 
fifteen thousand tons of shipping would be placed at his 
disposal to convey Russian troops from the Black Sea or 
elsewhere, and that he must do his best to give them 
transport for twenty-five thousand men, while reserving 
enough to carry eight thousand of his own force. 1 

The outlook, therefore, seemed promising. An army 
of thirty thousand men, though none too strong, might 
at least make some diversion in the Mediterranean. 
But further inquiry into the Russian resources revealed 
some doubts as to the strength of their expeditionary 
force. General Lascy gave it as fifteen thousand ; 
General Anrep, commanding the Russian troops at 
Corfu, reckoned on twelve thousand from Odessa and 
nearly ten thousand more from the garrison of that 
island ; though both agreed that nothing could be done 
until the arrival of the detachment from the Black Sea. 
Nor was Lascy's plan of operations calculated to inspire 
confidence. The bulk of the French forces, about 
fourteen thousand men, were, according to his informa- 
tion, in the districts of Bari and Otranto, whereby they 
secured a country rich in corn and cattle, to the 
privation of the Allies. It was most important alike 
to dislodge them from this and at the same time to 
exclude them from other fertile provinces, notably from 
La Terra di Lavoro, wherein Naples itself is situated. 
Lascy therefore purposed to land fifteen thousand 
Russians in the Bay of Naples, and to advance rapidly 
to the first good position to be found within twenty 
miles of the city, so as to cover both the district and 
the city itself and to enable the Neapolitan levies to 
be organised. Meanwhile the British, counting about 
seven thousand men of all 'ranks, would create a diver- 
sion by landing in the Gulf of Tarento, a little to the 
north of the river Crati, occupying the Castle of Roseto 
so as to close the road to Tarento, and advancing 

1 W.O. Mediterranean, 142, Craig to Sec. of State, 15th, 16th 
May, 17th, 22nd, 24th June, 21st July; W.O.E.B. 85, Sec. of 
State to Craig, 1st May, 8th June, 27th July .1805. 


to a strong position in the mountains, which could 1805. 
certainly be found within a few miles. The French 
corps nearest to this point (so urged Lascy) would be 
at least seventy miles distant, and if extended towards 
that side would be exposed to the risk of being cut off 
by the advance of the Russians from Naples eastward 
upon the province of Puglia. Hence the British dis- 
embarkation would probably be unmolested and their 
march practically unopposed until they reached Matera 
or Tarento. At that point the Russians would come 
into line with them, forming up on their left ; and 
further operations in Puglia and Abruzzi could be 
subsequently concerted. 

With admirable moderation Craig put forward his 
criticisms upon this absurd plan. The final embarkation 
for active service could not take place until the third 
week in September. By that time strong winds would 
have begun to blow, and the slightest surf would make 
disembarkation impossible. The selected landing-place 
for the British was not sheltered ; the transports would 
not dare to remain close to the coast ; and the troops 
would have to be landed in the ships' boats, for there 
were no others. The disembarkation of the men would 
therefore take, in the most favourable circumstances, one 
whole day, and that of the supplies and stores another. 
If in the middle of the operation a strong breeze sprang 
up, the ships would have to stand off, when perhaps 
half of the force or half of its stores was afloat, and 
the other half ashore. In such circumstances there was 
imminent risk of the destruction of the British in detail. 
Nor would any movement of the Russians serve to 
protect them. In the first place, the disembarkations 
of the British and of the Russians could hardly be 
i simultaneous, for they were to be carried out on opposite 
sides of the same peninsula, so that the wind which was fair 
for the one would be foul for the other. The Russians 
j being based upon Naples and all its resources, and being 
I also superior in number, might have little to fear if the 
British disembarkation failed or was delayed. But the 



1805. British force, weak, isolated, and without horses, would 
be liable to be overwhelmed. Supposing both disem- 
barkations to be simultaneously accomplished, the French, 
being warned of the coming storm, would concentrate 
their troops and either occupy Naples or take up some 
such central position as Matera, from which they could 
fall upon either division at their choice. The British 
even if safely landed, could not draw supplies from the 
country, owing to the enemy's cavalry, but would be 
obliged to stick to the coast ; and the landing of the 
Russians would not prevent the French from over- 
powering them. For the Russians would need some 
days to collect transport before they could advance ; 
they would be obliged to weaken themselves by guards 
for depots and magazines ; and they would find it hard 
at once to cover Naples and to cut off the French. 
The whole force, Russians and British, ought therefore 
to land together in the Bay of Naples ; but even so 
it could hardly be expected that the French would not 
evacuate Bari and Otranto, if they saw the slightest risk 
of being intercepted. 1 

Lascy, an easy-going gentleman of Irish descent 
and near eighty years of age, was convinced by this 
reasoning, though his Quarter-master-general, Opper- 
mann, drew up a long memoir in support of the 
original plan, which was of his own designing and was 
dictated not merely by ignorance but by treachery. 
Naturally the concerting of a campaign between two 
commanders at points so far distant as Malta and 
Naples took much time ; but Craig was able to turn 
the delay to account in equipping his army for the field, 
though he was driven to his wits' end to obtain horses 
and mules, which were equally few and equally bad 
both in Neapolitan territory and in Sicily. Meanwhile 
the Austrians had set their troops, under General Mack, 
in motion for the Black Forest, while ninety thousand 
men under the Archduke Charles were concentrating on 
the Adige ; and Craig now learned for the first time 
1 Craig to Sec. of State, with enclosures, 16th Aug. 1805. 


that Lascy's operations were to depend on those of the 1805. 
Archduke, of which he knew nothing. At length at 
the end of September the Russian troops at Corfu sent 
for their transports, which were duly despatched to 
them on the 1st of October. But at about the same 
time the British Minister at Naples reported that 
Napoleon had reinforced his troops in that Kingdom 
to twenty thousand men, notwithstanding that Massena 
had but fifty thousand with which to oppose the ninety 
thousand under the Archduke Charles on the Adige. 
St. Cyr, therefore, was in a condition to seize Naples 
in a few days, whereas the Allies could not reach it in 
less than a month, and would even then be unable to 
move from want of transport. King Ferdinand at once 
took the alarm. On the nth of September he had Sept. 11 
ratified a secret convention with Russia ; but on the 
21st he sent a mission to Paris with an abject offer to Sept. 21 
observe perfect neutrality if Napoleon would be pleased 
to withdraw the French troops from his kingdom. 
The Emperor, however, had not reinforced St. Cyr 
without a purpose. He had already exacted a treaty 
of neutrality from the Neapolitan Minister at Paris, 
and he now presented this to Ferdinand through his 
representative at Naples, with a demand that it should 
be ratified at once. Quaking with fright, the miserable 
old King complied ; but at the same time he delivered 
to the Russian Minister a declaration repudiating 
this convention with France, as having been extorted 
by threats, and calling upon the Russian and British 
troops to repair to Naples as though no such instrument 
had ever been signed. 

Meanwhile the campaign on the Danube was 
approaching its crisis. General Mack had concentrated 
the Austrian army at Ulm to block the usual line of the 
French advance from the Black Forest. But by the 7th Oct. 7. 
of October one hundred thousand men had reached the 
Danube in his rear, and a few days more saw two 
complete French corps astride the line of his com- 
munications with Vienna. Then followed a succession 

272 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1805. of bloody combats, one and all adverse to the Austrians ; 
and urgent orders were dispatched to the Archduke 
Charles to stand on the defensive in Italy and to 
send every man that he could spare to the rescue of 
Oct. 20. Mack. Finally on the 20th of October came the 
crowning disaster, when Mack surrendered with thirty 
thousand men, and the Austrian Army of the Danube 
virtually ceased to exist. Thenceforward there could 
be no hope of an Austrian offensive campaign in Upper 

Lascy, however, knowing nothing of all this, on the 
Oct. 30. 30th of October gave orders for his projected expedi- 
tion to go forward ; and on the following day Craig 
embarked his troops, numbering just over seven thou- 
sand of all ranks. 1 The British commander did so 
with no very good grace, for the treacherous behaviour 
of the Court of Naples towards Napoleon had been 
brought to his notice ; and he vowed in disgust that, 
but for his pledge to support Lascy, he would not have 
countenanced such double dealing. Putting to sea, 
Nov. 3. however, on the 3rd of November, he joined the Russian 
fleet near Cape Passaro ; and after a very long passage 
Nov. 20. the united corps landed at Naples on thft 20th. There 
they were met by the news of Mack's capitulation at 
Ulm, and of the consequent withdrawal of the Austrians 
from Upper Italy. The Archduke Charles, as a matter 
Oct. 29- of fact, after repelling a desperate attack of the French 
3 1, at Caldiero, was in full retreat, with Massena pressing 
closely upon his rear -guard. The French in the 
Neapolitan dominions who, after the signature of King 
Ferdinand's convention with Napoleon, had been 

1 2 squadrons 20th L.D., 335 of all ranks; R.A., 273 ; R.E., J 
19; 20th Foot, 801; 27th, 1063 ; 35th, 1003 ; 58th, 973 ; 6lst, I' 
834; Watteville's, 725; Chasseurs Britanniques, 645; Corsican 
Rangers, 740 ; Staff Corps, 20. The force was organised as 
follows : — Advanced Corps : Brig.-gen. Broderick, 1 batt. Corsicans, 
L.I. battalion, Grenadier battalion, Chasseurs Britanniques. First 
Brigade: Brig.-gen. Acland, 20th, 35th, 61st. Second Brigade: 
Brig.-gen. Cole, 27th, 58th, Watteville's. R.J. : 2 light brigades ! 
and one heavy brigade, 4/12-prs., 4 howitzers, 8/6-prs. 


hastening northward to join the Marshal, were halted ; 1805. 
and Eugene Beauharnais was collecting thirty thousand 
men to re-occupy Naples. But so far Craig had no 
knowledge of anything except of the disaster at Ulm 
and the Archduke's retirement ; and, though instructed 
to second the Austrian operations on the Adige, he 
had never been placed in communication with their 
commander nor with the Court of Vienna. He could, 
indeed, obtain no information whatever except through 
Russian channels, which he believed, not wholly without 
reason, to be untrustworthy. Not until long after his 
arrival at Naples did he hear that on the 21st of 
October Nelson had broken the naval power of France 
and Spain at Trafalgar. 1 

However, after disembarking his troops, he collected 
draught -animals as fast as the miserable Neapolitan 
Government could supply them, and, by cutting down 
the baggage of the army to the smallest possible bulk, 
gradually brought his brigades forward from the coast. 
Lascy had so arranged his line of cantonments on the 
northern frontier that seven thousand Neapolitan troops 
occupied the mountains of the Abruzzi on the right, 
with the fortress of Pescara in their rear ; the strong 
fortress of Gaeta, on the extreme left, being guarded 
by a Neapolitan garrison under a hard-drinking, most 
gallant old soldier, the Prince of Hesse- Philips tadt. 
The Russians held the centre, with head- quarters at 
Sulmona, being fourteen thousand strong and professing 
daily expectation of six more battalions ; and the 
British formed the left, in Sessa and other villages 
about the Lower Garigliano. And there the twenty 
thousand men lay, holding a defensive position, with no 
enemy, except the garrison of Ancona, nearer to them 
than the Po. Had Lascy on hearing the news of Ulm 
— or even earlier, seeing that on the 16th of October 
he knew the neutrality of Naples to be secured — directed 
his troops to Trieste or Venice, Massena could never 
have pressed the Archduke as he did, and Napoleon's 
1 Bunbury, pp. 206, 207. 




1805. campaign might have ended differently. But Lascy 
had been chosen not for his ability but for his age, so 
that at all costs he might be senior to Craig ; and it 
was vain to expect great energy from the veteran. 

So the little army lay still ; and from time to time 
came French reports of Napoleon's steady advance into 
Upper Austria, of the reverse suffered by Marshal 
Mortier's corps at Krems on the nth of November, of 
the retirement of the Emperor Francis to Pressburg in 
order to organise continued resistance in Hungary, and 
finally of the presentation of an ultimatum, in circum- 
stances which shall presently be described, by Prussia 
to Napoleon. Amid these hopeful signs arrived a 
letter from the Archduke Charles himself, written from 
Lay bach on the 22 nd of November during his retreat 
through Carinthia. Until that day, through extra- 
ordinary negligence in some quarters, 1 he had remained 
uninformed of the withdrawal of the French troops 
from Neapolitan territory ; but now, realising that 
Lascy's force was lying idle, he urged the Russian 
commander to embark it at once for Venice, which was 
held by a strong Austrian garrison, and from thence 
to fall upon Massena's rear. But as Craig pointed out, 
the Archduke had no intention of standing at Laybach ; 
wherefore Massena would either continue to follow 
him beyond hope of being overtaken, or would mask 
Venice with part of his force and beat Lascy with the 
remainder. Moreover, the British and Russian divisions 
possessed no cavalry whatever except two squadrons 
of the Twentieth Light Dragoons ; that of the 
Neapolitans was thoroughly contemptible ; and to 
attempt to harass superior numbers of the French, under 
such a leader as Massena, with twenty thousand infantry 
and only three hundred horse was utterly absurd. 2 

Meanwhile the campaign on the Danube had pursued 
Nov. 13. its course. On the 13th of November the French 

1 Bunbury hints strongly at treachery on the part of the Russian 
Minister at Naples. P. 20. 

2 Craig to Sec. of State, 2nd Nov., 9th Dec. 1805. 


entered Vienna ; and Napoleon bent all his energies to 1805. 
the task of preventing the junction of the retreating 
Austrians with the Russians. He failed : the allied 
commanders united their forces successfully at Wischau 
on the 19 th, and the game was in their hands. They Nov. 1 
needed only to wait under the guns of Olmiitz for the 
arrival of the Archduke Charles who was hastening, 
though necessarily by a wide detour, to join them with 
the Army of Italy, in order to place Napoleon in a 
most dangerous position. The Russians, however, were 
presumptuous and headstrong. They preferred to 
advance and fight at once ; with the result that on 
the 2nd of December they were utterly overthrown at Dec. 2 

This news, together with that of the armistice con- 
cluded with France by Austria on the 6th of December, Dec 6. 
was speedily passed on to Naples by French agents, 
and reduced Lascy to great embarrassment. He had 
no instructions to guide his action, nor had the Russian 
agent at Naples ; and he did not even know whether 
there was or was not a suspension of arms between 
Russia and France. As a matter of fact there was not. 
Napoleon, having granted to the Tsar a safe retreat and 
restored to him the prisoners which he had taken 
among the Russian Imperial Guard, never doubted but 
that the war was over ; but Alexander was too young 
in misfortune to yield after a single defeat and waved 
aside all proposals of peace. Napoleon, therefore, had 
a campaign in Poland still before him ; but nevertheless 
Austria had been separated from Russia by the armistice, 
and this was sufficient to make Lascy's position most 
critical. His information was still imperfect ; but he 
knew at any rate that French forces were moving 
southward, and that Napoleon had publicly declared 
his resolution to drive the Bourbons from Naples and 
to take possession of their kingdom. Nor were these 
his only causes for disquietude. His own troops were 
extremely unhealthy ; he had more sick in each of his 
battalions than the British in their whole division ; his 

276 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1805. fourteen thousand bayonets had shrunk to a bare eight 
thousand, and the six additional battalions expected 
in November had never appeared. A few days more 
passed away ; and at the end of the year came definite 
information that from thirty to thirty-five thousand 
French soldiers were in full march southward and 
would reach the Neapolitan frontier in ten days. It 
behoved Lascy therefore to come without delay to a 

It was not difficult to determine that defence of the 
Neapolitan frontier was hopeless. In spite of all efforts 
Craig had been unable to find horses even for the 
whole of his artillery, to say nothing of his baggage- 
waggons. It would have been possible to take up a 
strong position to cover the plains of Naples, and even 
to repulse for a time a force of superior numbers. But 
the Allies, having no transport, could not move, and 
the French could always have covered their retreat with 
cavalry and renewed their attacks until they succeeded, 
in which case the re-embarkation of the British and 
Russians would have been difficult if not impossible. 
Lascy, in council of war, broached the proposal to 
retire into Calabria and there hold out^depending upon 
a small port in the Gulf of Policastro for supplies ; and 
this found favour with every officer present, British and 
Russian, excepting Craig and Major-general Campbell, 
his second in command. The harbour was reported by 
a British naval officer to be unsafe for shipping, too 
small for its purpose, and unapproachable on the side 
of the land except by the roughest mule-tracks. This 
was one drawback ; and there was another which Craig 
did not venture to mention, namely, that the Russians, 
having neither money nor credit, must live upon the 
country and would thus infallibly bring upon the entire 
force a savage and dangerous struggle with the Calabrese. 
Lastly Craig retained a lively recollection of his instruc- 
tions to secure Sicily, and on that account was anxious 
to re-embark at once. Lascy, however, dared not re- 
embark without orders ; and the Court of Naples in an 


agony of rage and fear would hear of nothing but a 1805. 
desperate resistance which would cover the capital till 
the last moment. In this mood King Ferdinand 
absolutely prohibited any withdrawal to Calabria ; and 
the situation was becoming extremely dangerous to the 
Allies, for Craig, though utterly disapproving as a 
soldier any futile attempt to resist the French, thought 
himself bound in honour not to forsake the Russians. 

Fortunately, however, on the 7th of January 1806 1806. 
Lascy received orders, dated a full month back, from J an - 7- 
the Tsar that he should return at once to Corfu ; and 
the two armies parted not unwillingly, for the Russians 
had not yet forgotten their supposed grievances in 
North Holland in 1799. ^he Russians marched to 
Naples, and the British to Castellamare, where on the 
14th they began their embarkation. Craig's health, Jan. 14 
always uncertain, had broken down under the anxieties 
of the past weeks ; but now came the most trying time 
of all for him. Mr. Hugh Elliot, our Minister at 
Naples, always a witty and usually a sensible man, for 
some reason set his face against a retreat of the British 
troops to Sicily, and would have had them return to 
Malta. The jealous imbecility of the Court of Naples 
was of course offended by the thought of the British 
repairing to Messina ; and King Ferdinand went the 
length of announcing that, if they occupied Sicily 
without his consent, he would join forces with the 
French to drive them out. Elliot so far humoured 
this folly that he offered to open a negotiation on the 
Queen's behalf with the advancing enemy. In vain 
Craig protested that such a course would assuredly 
sacrifice Sicily. The faithlessness of the Neapolitan 
Government was proverbial ; Napoleon would accept 
nothing but a French occupation of Sicily in redemption 
of King Ferdinand's misdeeds ; Colling wood's squadron 
had left the Mediterranean for Cadiz, leaving the sea 
open to the French ; and, if the British troops retired 
to Malta, they would probably be unable to return 
before Syracuse and Messina had received French 

278 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

806. garrisons. All arguments were thrown away. Elliot 
persisted in his mad scheme of negotiation ; and Craig 
finally taking matters into his own hands sailed away 

. 19. on the 19th, and on the 22 nd anchored at Messina. 
The French marched on, playing meanwhile with King 
Ferdinand's emissaries as a cat with a mouse, and within 
three weeks the King himself came flying over to Sicily, 
where Craig's foresight and firmness had provided for 
him a safe refuge. 1 

Before quitting Mediterranean affairs for the present, 
it is worth while to emphasise the extreme futility of 
this expedition under Craig. The criticisms of Craufurd 
and Napoleon were amply justified. The combination 
which Pitt had projected was a pygmy combination, 
and deserved no success ; yet, paltry though the British 
force was, no true effort was made that it should be 
fit for the field. At Malta, instead of a reserve, there 
was a positive dearth of ammunition ; and Craig, who 
had only brought with him four hundred rounds for 
each of his six thousand men, was obliged to give one 
hundred and sixty of this proportion to the garrison. I 
Again, though he was supposed to co-operate with the 
Austrians and might therefore find himself in the plains i 
of Northern Italy, only two squadrons of cavalry ; 
were granted to him, and no notice was taken of his j 
urgent requests for more. Once more, though Aber- 
cromby had done his best to impress upon the Cabinet 
in 1799 that an Army cannot move without horses and 
waggons, yet Craig's handful of dragoons and the j 
whole of his artillery were shipped abroad without their It 
horses. It would have been easy to ascertain from the j 
officers who had served with Charles Stuart in the I 
Mediterranean in 1798 whether horses and mules were |t 
procurable in Naples and Sicily ; yet Craig was sent j 
upon his mission with easy assurance, as though the | t 
animals could be obtained for the asking. As to his j 
instructions, they show plainly that the Government 1 

1 Craig to Sec. of State, nth Feb. 1806, enclosing correspond- ; 
ence with Elliot. 


had no definite military policy and no distinct object 1805. 
in dispatching a division of infantry to Malta at all. 
Craig was to go to the Mediterranean and do some- 
thing somewhere within its limits between Alexandria 
and Cagliari. In brief, the whole enterprise bears upon it 
the unmistakable mark of Pitt's military administration. 

But Pitt's efforts to take the offensive were not 
limited to this paltry expedition of Craig. Holland 
had for some time been virtually a province of France ; 1 
and it therefore behoved England to look well to the 
Cape of Good Hope. It has already been told how, 
upon the first alarm of Villeneuve's departure to the 
West Indies, large reinforcements had been prepared 
for the British islands under the command of Sir 
Eyre Coote. Nelson's pursuit and Villeneuve's return 
rendered the departure of these reinforcements un- 
necessary, and, as the troops were on their transports 
at Cork, it was resolved to send a portion of them 
under Sir David Baird to capture the Cape. Baird 
received his instructions to this effect on the 26th of 
July, and sailed a few weeks later for his destination, 
whither in due time we shall follow him. It will be 
remarked that the decision to send his force out of the 
country was taken a full month before the break-up of 
the camp at Boulogne ; and it was therefore reasonable 
to suppose that, when Napoleon was in full march for 
the Danube, some far more formidable operation would 
be undertaken. Troops might now be easily spared 
from England, and moreover Pitt had had the good 
fortune to meet with a windfall. Officers and men of 
the Hanoverian Army, which had been broken up by 
the capitulation of 1803, soon afterwards drifted over 
to England, where in rage and shame they entreated 
George the Third to reform them and take them into 
his service ; and in December 1803 was begun the levy 
of a King's German Regiment which was very soon 
expanded into that of a King's German Legion. 
The force grew apace. In January 1805 it already 
1 Sorel, vi. 423. 



1805. included one regiment of dragoons, another of hussars, 
two battalions of light and four of heavy infantry, with 
two batteries of horse -artillery and three of field- 
artillery. Negotiations were opened with Sweden to 
procure recruiting depots at Stralsund and Riigen, 
which were duly accorded by a convention of the 3rd 
of December 1804 and before the end of 1805 the 
Legion counted in all five regiments of cavalry, ten 
battalions of infantry, and six batteries of artillery, in 
all some fourteen thousand men. And these were no 
mere mercenaries like the Hessians of former days. 
They were not only excellent soldiers under excellent 
officers, but loyal and patriotic subjects, devoted to 
the King, and burning to avenge themselves for their 
humiliation in 1803. They had their will ; and these 
Hanoverians enjoy the proud distinction of being the 
only Germans who from 1803 to 18 14 bore arms 
unceasingly against Napoleon. 

With so valuable an addition to his offensive force, 
Pitt was really in a situation to make the arm of 
England felt on shore as well as at sea. His first 
thought, not unnaturally, was to end the fear of 
invasion at once by destroying the fiWilla in Boulogne 
and the adjacent ports. The project was entrusted to 
Sir John Moore who, after careful investigation, reported j 
that, unless undertaken by a really formidable force and 
with a sure port for re-embarkation, the enterprise was . 
unduly hazardous. Ministers very reasonably decided 
to abandon the idea. But with Napoleon's army 
plunged into the heart of South Germany to meet the 
Austrians and Russians on his front, there could hardly 
fail to be good opportunity for dealing a stroke upon 
his flank or rear. Such a blow might fall either upon 
Holland or upon Hanover, both of which were reputed 
to be weakly held by French troops ; or it might be 
dealt by a force landing at Stralsund, where the King 
of Sweden could without difficulty be persuaded to i 
permit a disembarkation. But in this last case the 
1 F.O. Sweden, 33 ; Pierrepont to Sec. of State, 3rd Jan. 1805. 


co-operation of Prussia was essential ; and indeed 1805. 
without at least the countenance of Prussia, it would be 
difficult if not impossible to effect anything decisive 
in North Germany. All therefore turned upon the 
attitude of the Court of Berlin. 

Some account has already been given of the artful 
fashion in which Napoleon kept Hanover dangling 
before the greedy eyes of Frederick William, and of 
the King's infatuation in believing that he, weakest 
and stupidest as well as falsest of men, could contrive 
to obtain the coveted province from the Emperor and 
yet remain friendly with the Tsar. As the outbreak of 
hostilities between France and Austria became more and 
more certain, Napoleon strove more and more to bind 
Prussia to himself. In July he invited her to occupy 
Hanover and to keep it at the end of the war, if 
Frederick William would recognise the French annexa- 
tion of Genoa and give him a free hand in Italy. 
Frederick William's answer reached the Emperor on 
the 22 nd of August. The King was quite ready to Aug. 2 
take over Hanover ; but, seeking as usual an impossible 
neutrality, he desired explanations as to Napoleon's 
dealings with Hanover, Italy, and Switzerland. The 
Emperor stood by his terms, and answered plainly that 
unless Prussia threatened Austria, she should not have 
Hanover. Meanwhile Austria likewise urged Frederick 
William to join with her ; and the Tsar, to whom Prussia 
was bound by treaty, pressed him in exceedingly firm 
language to enter the coalition, or at any rate to allow 
Russian troops to pass his frontier, hinting not obscurely 
that these concessions, if not freely granted, might be 
extorted by force. Simultaneously General Duroc 
arrived at Berlin, as envoy from Napoleon, to propose 
an active alliance. Embarrassed and bewildered, sure 
only that he wanted everything and would give nothing, 
the King on the 7th of September put his army on a Sept. 7 
footing of war ; warning the Tsar that any act of violence 
would drive him into the arms of France, but at the 
same time intimating to Duroc that Prussia could 



1805. hardly preserve neutrality without the occupation of 
Hanover. The rival powers then became keener in 
their competition for Frederick William's help. On the 

Sept. 15. 15th of September the Tsar sent a polite ultimatum, 
again claiming the alliance of Prussia, and passage for 

Sept. 17. his troops through her territory; and on the 17 th 
Duroc, under Napoleon's orders, became more than 
ever importunate for Prussia's alliance with France, since 
one of the French columns was going, freely or by 
force, to march through country which was under 
Prussian protection. The King once more declared that 
he would maintain strict neutrality, and sent a reproachful 
letter to the Tsar, asking for an interview, which missive 
arrived just in time to avert a forcible entry of the 
Russian troops into his dominions. Count Hardenberg, 
who by his own account had done his best to urge 
Frederick William to break definitely with France, 
became much agitated over the situation and professed 
impatience to see a British force disembark in Hanover. 
His hope was that his master, when he realised that 
Napoleon could not give him the province, would at 
last throw in his lot with the coalition. 

All this happened at the end of September. On the 

Sept. 27. 27th of that month the Tsar wrote again to Frederick 
William politely asking him to hasten the moment 
for Russian troops to pass the Prussian frontier, and 
promising a subsidy of a million and a quarter ster- I 
ling from England for every hundred thousand 
Prussians put into the field. The King still stuck to 
his neutrality, and Hardenberg was in despair ; but 
Oct. 6. fortunately on the 6th of October, Frederick William | 
learned that the French troops, by their passage through I 
Anspach, had violated his own sacred territory. Then I 
the weak man, becoming suddenly violent, wished to j 
send the French envoys their passports on the spot, |! 
and to invite the Russians to cross his boundaries I 
immediately. Hardenberg averted this folly ; but j 
Oct. 7. on the next day it was decided in Berlin first to j 
inform Napoleon that Prussia considered herself | 


absolved from all obligation to France, next to 1805. 
summon Alexander over the frontier, and finally — a 
thoroughly characteristic move — to occupy Hanover. 
The matter seemed so far settled that, on the 15th of Oct. 15. 
October, the shrewdest head in Europe, Metternich, 
who was in Berlin at the time, reckoned on seeing the 
Prussian and Russian troops united on the Bohemian 
frontier in a few weeks. But on that same day the 
news of Ney's victory at Elchingen on the 14th reached 
Berlin, and the King began again to waver. He 
summoned Count Haugwitz, the advocate of peace, to 
share the Foreign Office with Hardenberg, the advocate 
of war, and wished not only to close his boundaries to 
the Russians but to evade his interview with the Tsar. 
Alexander thereupon announced that he would come 
to Berlin in person, and arriving at Potsdam on the 25th Oct. 25. 
of October, soon revived the Prussian monarch's drooping 
spirits. Duroc took his leave with threats ; and after 
enormous persuasion Frederick William was induced 
to send Count Haugwitz to Napoleon. This envoy 
was instructed to offer the Emperor the basis of 
negotiations laid down in the Anglo- Russian treaty 
of the nth of April, to give him until the 15th of 
December to accept or refuse it, and, in the event of 
his refusal, to intimate that Prussia would join the 
Coalition with one hundred and eighty thousand men. 
Metternich tried hard to reduce the period of grace to 
forty -eight hours, lest the Allies should be devoured 
piecemeal, but in vain. The agreement was signed on 
the 3rd of November ; Haugwitz departed on his Nov. 3. 
mission on the 14th ; and Frederick William relapsed Nov. 14. 
into misery over the fact that he had actually committed 
himself to a decision. 

Such and so abject was the man upon whom the 
fate of Europe at this crisis depended ; and such the 
course of events at his Court during the momentous 
months of the autumn of 1805. It is now necessary 
to turn to Pitt's dealings with him. Whether 
Hardenberg's saying as to a landing of the British in 



1805. Hanover reached their ears or not, it is certain that early 
in October Pitt and his colleagues were considering 
the possibility of rousing and supporting an insurrection 
in that province. They had at first some idea of landing 
troops at Stralsund, and marching into it from that 
quarter. Negotiations had been going forward through 
Mr. Pierrepont, our Minister at Stockholm, since the 
beginning of 1805 for the defence, through the help of 
British subsidies, of Swedish Pomerania by a joint force 
of Swedes and Russians. The task of concluding a 
convention between these two powers was of enormous 
difficulty, for the mad King of Sweden haggled in- 
cessantly for absolute control of all the forces, which, 
though his own contingent formed but one-third of the 
whole, he was to command in person. However, in 
February 1805 the agreement was signed. The Tsar 
was to send from forty to fifty thousand troops, and 
King Gustavus twenty to twenty-five thousand ; the 
British Government was to provide ^50,000 to place 
Pomerania in a state of defence ; and it was arranged 
that the treaty should take active effect whenever the 
French in Hanover should move either towards Olden- 
burg, Mecklenburg, or Holstein. « 

Then followed months of wrangling over the sub- 
sidy to be paid to the Swedish troops by England, 
and new difficulties over the landing of the Russian 
force in Pomerania ; for it is ill negotiating with any 
lunatic and worst of all with a royal lunatic. How- 
ever, at last all obstacles were overcome, and at the 

Sept. end of September a treaty of alliance was signed 
whereby Sweden engaged to furnish ten thousand 
men for defence of Pomerania, but to call them 
twelve thousand ; England on her part agreeing to 
pay for the latter number at the rate of £12 : 10s. 
a man. At the same time the Russian troops, twenty 
thousand strong 1 under Count Tolstoy, disembarked at 

1 Infantry 15,836; Cavalry 1705, with 1 61 5 horses; Artillery 
1749, with 590 horses. Total (including the train), 19,348 and 
3205 horses. 


Stralsund on the 5th of October, so that matters showed 1805. 
signs of real progress. A few days later, on the 14th Oct. 14. 
of October, news reached the Swedish Court of Prussia's 
changed attitude towards France, in consequence of the 
violation of her dominions in Anspach. This infused 
new life into the preparations. Pierrepont urged the 
King of Sweden to advance into Hanover at once, 
before Prussia could offer to do so ; and simultaneously 
the British Foreign Office pressed Tolstoy to take the 
same course. The King of Sweden did not love 
Prussia and had returned to Berlin his Order of the 
Black Eagle, on hearing that Frederick William had 
accepted the insignia of the Legion of Honour. He 
was likely therefore to seize any opportunity of making 
himself disagreeable to his brother potentate ; and 
altogether all indications pointed to an early recovery 
of Hanover. 1 

In England the Ministry had meanwhile resolved to 
send a force to aid in the reconquest of the province. 
On the 10th of October orders were issued for six Oct. 10. 
thousand men of the King's German Legion to embark 
for foreign service under the command of Lieutenant- 
general Don, who was to proceed to Berlin in advance 
of his force in order to ascertain the feelings of that 
Court towards the landing of a British force in North 
Germany. The plan of operations was sketched by 
Brigadier van der Decken, a Hanoverian officer who 
had been prominent in raising the first corps of the 
King's German Legion. He urged that the force 
should not be of smaller strength than twenty-five 
thousand men, so as to enable it to advance into 
Hanover with confidence and without delay. Napoleon, 
as he pointed out, could constantly detach troops to 
overwhelm any British army that landed in North 
Germany ; and between November and March such an 

1 F.O. Sweden, 33. Pierrepont to Sec. of State, 13th Jan., 7th, 
15th Feb., 20th March, 8th, 26th April, 9th July, 25th Aug., 1st 
Sept., 4th, 14th Oct. ; Sec. of State to Pierrepont, 25th June, 18th 
Oct. 1805. 




1805. army could not re-embark, if hard pressed, but must 
cross the Elbe, which might be a hazardous operation, 
and retire eastward into Lauenburg. Owing to the 
approach of winter and the prospect of navigation 
being obstructed by ice, the detachment of the King's 
German Legion ought to sail at once, without waiting 
for the result of Don's mission to Berlin, disembark at 
Gltickstadt on the Elbe, occupy and fortify Stade, and 
establish magazines at Cuxhaven and Bremerlehe. 
These two last should be the places of disembarkation 
for the rest of the troops, since the dearth of provisions 
and horses in the country was such that it would be 
imprudent to land the entire force at one spot. The 
British contingent should be concentrated at Verden on 
the Weser and should advance towards Nienburg, while 
the Swedes and Russians moved towards Lttneburg, Zell, 
and Hanover. The French were concentrated at 
Nienburg, at Hameln, and at Fort St. George, over 
against Hameln, on the west bank of the Weser ; but 
Hameln was the only place which was really formidable 
and would require a regular siege. 1 
Oct. 16. Decken's advice bore immediate fruit. On the 16th 
Don was informed that nearly eleven, thousand men 2 I 
would be embarked at once for the Elbe in order to 
expel the French, now under four thousand strong, 
from Hanover, and that five thousand more would be 
held in readiness in the Downs. Meanwhile he himself 
was to go out at once to Berlin. His original in- 
structions bade him sound the dispositions of Prussia 
towards the projected enterprise and discover if she 
had an understanding with either France or Russia as 
to the occupation of Hanover ; though it was not to be 
supposed that on any ground she could object to King 
George's reoccupation of his own dominions. He was 
also to ascertain the views of Denmark in case a retreat 

1 Sec. of State to C.-in-C, 10th, 14th Oct. ; Don to Sec. of State, 
14th Oct. ; Decken to Sec. of State, 16th Oct. 1805. 

2 K.G.L. 4808 ; 4 cos. 95th Rifles, 400 ; Brigade of Guards, 
2000 ; 1st Regt. Caval. K.G.L. 575 ; 4th, 14th, 23rd Foot, 2800 ; 
2 brigades of Artillery, 300. 


of the British troops through Holstein should be 1805. 
necessary, and those of the Duke of Mecklenburg, in the 
event of their wishing to advance through his territory 
upon Stralsund. As regards the operations, he was not 
to land nor advance into the interior unless assured of 
the safety of his force, nor to remain in the country 
after the harbours were frozen unless certain of a 
safe retreat ; and his chief business would be to collect 
the army of the Hanoverians. 

These orders were due to intense and rightful distrust 
of Frederick William ; but on the 18 th the news of that Oct. 18 
sovereign's fury against Napoleon over the affair of 
Anspach set many misgivings at rest. Then Ministers 
suddenly woke to the idea that, with the concert of 
Prussia, it would be possible to recover not only Hanover 
but Holland. For a moment there was some idea of a 
descent upon Walcheren ; and on the 24th orders were Oct. 24 
sent to Don not to put to sea until futher directions should 
reach him. It seems, however, that the military officers 
discouraged the project by urging the possible difficulties 
of a re-embarkation during the depth of winter ; and on 
the 25th Don was finally directed to sail with the first Oct. 25 
detachment of troops to the Elbe, Lord Harrowby 
having been appointed to take his place on a special 
mission to Berlin. 1 

By the 29th the first division was embarked ; and Oct. 29 
three days later van der Decken sailed forward in 
advance to collect supplies and transport. Arriving on 
the 8 th of November, he sent home a report to the Nov. 8. 
following effect. Both Swedes and Russians were 
advancing westward. Prussian troops had actually 
entered Hanover and taken up positions on the 
Ems, securing the chief passages into the Nether- 
lands by the occupation of Bentheim, and meanwhile 
living on the country with extreme hardship to the 
inhabitants. The people rejoiced greatly over the 
arrival of the British troops ; but between the exactions 

1 Sec. of State to Don, 16th, 17th, 19th, 25th, 28th Oct. ; to 
Lord Keith, 24th Oct. 1805. 

288 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1805. of the French and of the Prussians the province was 
much exhausted, and horses would be difficult to pro- 
cure. The whole of the French force had been withdrawn 
into Hameln, where it was blockaded without hostilities 
by a Prussian detachment. The Prussian Commander- 
in-chief, the Duke of Brunswick, was very anxious for 
his men to be relieved in all their present stations by 
the troops of the Allies. For the advance into Holland 
Brunswick would detach fifteen thousand of his own 
troops to co-operate with the British, distributing the 
rest of the force between the middle Rhine and 
Moselle to keep up communications between his main 
army and that of the Allies. Finally, on pretext of 
guarding his magazines, the Duke wished to keep two 
battalions in Bremen ; and this van der Decken evi- 
dently considered an extremely suspicious circum- 
stance. 1 

Nov. 17. A few days later, on the 17th, General Don, after 
long detention by foul winds, anchored at Cuxhaven, 
and, pursuant to instructions from Harrowby, prepared 
for immediate disembarkation. But affairs were not 
going happily with the allied force. The King of 
Sweden upon landing in Stralsund found that Tolstoy 
had rushed off to Berlin to see the Tsar, leaving no 
report concerning his army, nor so much as an officer 
to receive His Majesty. This was unmannerly in any 
case, and Gustavus was one who was quick to construe 
discourtesy as insult. He was already greatly incensed 
that Frederick William had ordered Prussian troops to 
Hanover without informing him ; and he instantly sent 
orders to halt his advanced guard, which had already 
reached Lauenberg on its march westward, vowing that 
he would return home. Pierrepont hastily intervened 
It was his function to keep his Swedish Majesty in good 
temper, and he stood by Gustavus as a man stands at 
the head of a nervous horse, watching for every motion 
of eye and ear, and lavishing soft words and caresses 
Tolstoy returned hurriedly from Berlin with apologies 
1 Decken to Sec. of State, 12th November 1805. 


though he did not conceal that he disliked the imposi- 1805. 
tion of any man as commander over his head ; and the 
incensed Gustavus, having thrown everything into 
confusion for several days, at last consented that his 
troops should cross the Elbe. 1 

Having made his peace, Tolstoy hastened to Liine- 
burg, summoning Don thither to go with him to the 
Duke of Brunswick's head-quarters at Hildesheim, some 
thirty miles south of Hanover ; and there at last some 
definite arrangements were made. The British troops 
were for the present to occupy a line on the Lower 
Weser with their right at B lumen thai, their left at 
Verden, and advanced posts pushed forward on the 
river Hunte ; while Tolstoy's right division should 
occupy the Weser from Hoya towards Minden and its 
left should blockade Hameln. In these positions the 
two commanders hoped in the course of a few weeks to 
be able to find horses and drivers for their artillery, and 
to mobilise their forces generally for an advance into 
Holland, towards which French reinforcements were 
already said to be marching. How any one could 
expect for a moment that a mixed force, in great 
measure dependent on the wills of such men as the 
Kings of Sweden and Prussia, could operate successfully 
against such a master of energy and action as Napoleon, 
it is difficult to see. The British Government did in 
fact lose patience, and, after urging upon Don an 
immediate descent on Holland, decided to embark 
twelve thousand additional troops without waiting 
longer to hear of the intentions of King Frederick 
William. This reinforcement increased the British 
contingent to twenty-five thousand men, of which 
Lord Cathcart was appointed Commander-in-chief. 
He was directed to disembark it in the Ems, Ministers 
expecting that, by the time of its arrival, Don and 
Tolstoy would already have advanced from the Weser 
to the Yssel. But meanwhile Tolstoy had come to the 
conclusion that the reduction of Hameln by a strict 

1 Pierrepont to Sec. of State, 28th Oct., 3rd, 9th Nov. 1805. 




blockade was a very important object ; and that this 
operation, requiring as it would nine thousand men, 
would leave too few for an invasion of Holland. He 
was ready, if the British Government pressed him, to 
leave a corps to observe Hameln and to advance at once 
to the Yssel ; but he and Don agreed that it would 
be better to delay a forward movement until the 
Swedes should have come up and Prussia should 
have finally declared against France. Then with 
their armies mobilised and a frost to make the 
waters passable, invasion of Holland would be an easy 
matter. 1 

The British Ministers bowed to the inevitable. The 
Allied Army in Hanover, having neither transport nor 
supplies, was plainly unable to move ; and Cathcart's 
division was ordered to disembark, as Don's had done, 
in the Weser. Cathcart himself was to sail at once, 
and the mission of his force was explained to be not 
only to recover Holland but to assure the Allies of the 
British on the Continent of England's firm determina- 
tion to aid them not only by liberal subsidies but by 
active operations. All, however (such was the purport 
of his instructions), must depend upon Prussia. 
Harrowby's latest reports left no doubt that she would 
remain neutral ; but it was certain that she had sent 
an ultimatum by the hand of Haugwitz to Napoleon, 
and there was every hope that Napoleon would reject 
it. In this case Prussia would be committed to war, 
and intelligence of the event ought to reach the Weser 
by the 15 th of December. It was understood that 
Frederick William was desirous of the recapture of 
Holland from France, and he would probably be 
strengthened in his zeal by Harrowby's representations 
of England's readiness to assist him in this object. In 
fact, a main object of sending the British contingent of 
troops was to enable Prussia to march a force into 

1 Don to Sec. of State, 19th, 25th, 28th Nov. ; Sec. of State to 
Don, 19th, 27th Nov. ; to Lord Harrowby, 27th Nov. ; E. Cooke 
to H.M. Consul, Embden, 26th Nov. 1805. 


Holland without unduly weakening her strength in 1805. 
Franconia and Lower Saxony. But it was possible that, 
if the King of Sweden advanced with all his troops, 
they, together with the Russians and British, might 
well suffice to reduce all Holland north of the Meuse 
and Rhine ; and if Gustavus did actually take command 
of the Swedes and of the Russians whom the Tsar had 
placed under his orders, then Cathcart was, as a pro- 
visional arrangement, to obey directions from him like- 
wise. Finally the British troops were not to advance 
into Holland on any ill-concerted errand, as a mere 
diversion ; but it was hoped that no such idea would be 
in contemplation, for the British Ministers were specially 
anxious to recover Holland during 1805, and would 
deeply lament the necessity of deferring the operation 
to another year. 1 

Meanwhile Haugwitz was on his way to Napoleon 
charged with the momentous ultimatum which, as the 
Allies hoped, would throw Prussia into their arms. 
He journeyed slowly, being delayed partly by his own 
inclination and partly by Napoleon's orders ; but at 
last on the 28th of November he was permitted to Nov. 28. 
reach Briinn and was received with icy coldness by the 
Emperor. He put forward Prussia's scheme of media- 
tion none the less, and Napoleon accepted it, upon the 
condition that no troops, Russian, Swedish, or British, 
should pass the frontier of Holland. Haugwitz readily 
consented to this, thereby light-heartedly upsetting 
the whole of England's combinations and all the 
elaborate arrangements that Harrowby and Hardenberg 
were debating at Berlin. Napoleon then sent him to 
Vienna to confer with Talleyrand. The Emperor 
was on the eve of a great battle ; he understood 
thoroughly that Prussia would turn upon him if he 
were beaten, and he did not forget her intrusion upon 
him at so critical a moment. Four days later, as Dec. 2. 
has been told, he fought and won the battle of 

1 Instructions to Cathcart, Nov. ; 5th Dec. ; Sec. of State to 
Harrowby, 7th Dec. 1805. 



1805. Austerlitz ; on the 6th was concluded the armistice 
Dec. 6. which eliminated Austria from the struggle ; and on 
Dec. 14. the 14th Napoleon sent for Haugwitz to vent upon 
him his rage against Prussia. The interview was a 
stormy one, and the Emperor closed it with the ominous 
words that in a few days peace between France and 
Austria would be signed, and that he would not say 
what his relations with Prussia might then be. He 
was, however, still anxious to conclude an alliance with 
Frederick William if it were possible ; wherefore 
summoning Haugwitz once more to his presence, he 
warned him that if his King forced France into war, 
Hanover should never belong to Prussia. He then 
offered him a treaty of offensive and defensive alliance 
upon the following among other terms — that Prussia 
should take Hanover, should give Anspach to Bavaria, 
should cede Neufchatel and Cleves to Napoleon himself, 
should guarantee to France her present dominions and all 
future gains in Italy, and should further guarantee to 
Bavaria and Wiirtemberg such new possessions as might 
be dealt out to them by himself as reward for their 
services to France. Haugwitz duly accepted this 
Dec. 13. offer, and on the 13th of December the Treaty was 
Dec. 20. signed at Schonbrunn. On the 20th Haugwitz was 
given to understand that the article concerning Italy 
included Naples, and that Hardenberg must be dis- 
missed from King Frederick William's councils. 
Therewith he was suffered to take his departure to 

During the interval the British Cabinet awaited in 
anxious suspense the issue of Haugwitz's mission. Pitt 
had gone to Bath, a dying man, though as yet he knew 
it not ; and Mulgrave and Hawkesbury had gone with 
him. Harrowby's letters gave none but unsatisfactory 
accounts of the attitude of the Court of Berlin. 
Frederick William was evidently waiting upon events ; 
and the Prussian Staff was opposed to a direct attack 
upon Holland as a permanent operation, though 
favouring the advance of a small detachment towards 


it to make a diversion. Anxious, however, to show 1805. 
zeal and good-will, Ministers ordered eight more British 
battalions and some German cavalry to sail for the 
Weser on the 10th of December, with the melancholy Dec. 10. 
result that the transports were at once dispersed by a 
heavy gale and part of them cast away. Cathcart, 
arriving at Cuxhaven on the 15th, was met by the news Dec. 15. 
of Austerlitz and by an intimation from Harrowby that, 
in consequence of the armistice between Austria and 
France, the Prussian Staff deprecated any movement 
towards Holland. He therefore detained all his trans- 
ports so as to be ready for re-embarkation. A day or 
two later came a strange rumour, which found its way 
even to England, that the Russians and Austrians had 
fought a second action against Napoleon and had driven 
him back upon Vienna. The Ministers in London 
therefore ordered yet more troops to sail for the Weser, 
and continued to urge Prussia to come to a decision 
as to her policy and her plan of campaign. They also 
condescended to explain that England had made 
enormous efforts to give the Allies solid support upon 
the Continent, that she was running great risks by 
sending men to North Germany at a season when they 
might be unable to re-embark, and that foul winds and 
ignorance of Prussia's intentions were really account- 
able for the delay in the appearance of her troops. 
Cathcart was further apprised that the position of the 
British on the Weser was now becoming a matter of 
substantive importance in itself, for the French troops 
were reported to be collecting in Holland, and there 
was always the chance that Napoleon might direct a 
force upon Hanover from the south and east. The 
Cabinet was anxious to protect the unfortunate province 
in order alike to save it from a renewal of harsh treat- 
ment, to ensure the recruiting of the German Legion, 
to secure the British magazines on the Elbe and Weser, 
and to maintain easy communication between England 
and North Germany. Finally a long and confused 
statement of the disposition of the Prussian armies was 

294 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

805. enclosed to the British General to show that operations 

of some kind were still possible. 1 
2 9- On the 29th of December, however, the British 
Ministers in London received unmistakable news, long 
delayed by foul winds, of the disaster of Austerlitz and 
of the armistice between Austria and France. Being 
unable in the absence of Pitt to give Cathcart further 
instructions, they merely sent him additional transports 
to bring off his troops, which in the circumstances was 
the wisest thing that they could do. Affairs were steadily 
going from bad to worse. The King of Sweden, after 
allowing part of his troops to march as far as the Elbe, 
and even moving himself some way westward, declared 
that he would not act while the attitude of Prussia was 
so uncertain, though the first shot fired from a Prussian 
gun would be the signal for him to advance in force. 
The Tsar, however, after retiring in deep depression to 
St. Petersburg upon the defeat of Austerlitz, had 
placed Tolstoy's detachment under the orders of the 
King of Prussia ; and King Gustavus very naturally 
refused to make himself in any way dependent upon 
the commands of Frederick William, «whom he rightly 
held in utter detestation and contempt. The position 
of Cathcart was very difficult. Additional British 
troops continued to arrive ; but many transports were 
missing, and comparatively few of his battalions were 
complete in consequence. 2 The French force to west 

1 Sec. of State to C.-in-C. 19th Dec.; to Harrowby (private), 
21st Dec; to Cathcart, 23rd Dec. 1805. 

2 Troops of the second division arrived on the Weser on or 
before 1st Jan. 1806 : 

Major-general Sir Arthur Welleslefs Brigade . 

3rd Foot, 


8th „ 


99 99 '..«. .* 

36th „ 


Major-general Fraser's Brigade 

26th „ 


91 n • • • 

28th „ 


91st „ 


Major-general Sherbrooke's Brigade 

5 th „ 


99 99 • • * 

27th „ 


9 9 99 . ' ' * * 

34 th » 


Royal Artillery, 3 companies, with horses ; R.E. detachment. 


of the Yssel under Louis Bonaparte was increasing ; t so6. 
and another force under Augereau was menacing 
Hanover on the south from Frankfort on Main. The 
behaviour of Prussia was growing more and more 
equivocal ; her preparations for war were backward ; 
and her army, owing to the age and apathy of its 
generals, was deficient in the discipline which consti- 
tuted its sole strength. Nevertheless, evacuation of 
North Germany by the British would, in Cathcart's 
judgment, certainly precipitate Prussia towards a 
disastrous peace, whereas the presence of a British force 
might hearten her to stand firm until the Russians had 
recovered themselves. On the other hand a frost 
might at any moment make re-embarkation impossible, 
and then there would be no retreat except into Prussian 
territory and on to the Prussian armies. This retreat 
King Frederick William refused to grant unless the 
British troops on the Weser retired in rear of the 
Prussians, so as to ensure that there should be no pro- 
vocative action towards Holland, and unless the 
blockade of Hameln were relaxed so as to give some 
relief to the French garrison. The whole state of 
affairs was so uncertain that Cathcart could only arrange 
a temporary disposition of his troops in concert with the 
Prussian General Kalkreuth, and then await orders. The 
British therefore occupied Bremen and Verden, and the 
Russians Hoya and Nienburg. The Swedes were per- 
force left on the Elbe to act as a reserve, if they should 
consent to act at all; and the Prussian contingent 
remained in observation on the line of the Ems, ready, 
if need were, to lean its right upon Minden so as to 
cover the British left and keep up communication with 
Magdeburg. 1 

Such, however, was Cathcart's distrust of Prussia 
that he made every preparation to collect and embark 
the recruits which had been gathered for the King's 
German Legion, lest King Frederick William's officers 

1 Sec. of State to Cathcart, 29th Dec. 1805 ; Cathcart to Sec. 
of State, 1st (with enclosure), 2nd, 6th Jan. 1806. 



1806. should try to take them from him. At length, on the 
Jan. 7. 7th of January 1806, Hardenberg informed Harrowby 
that there was every prospect of his master's coming to 
an arrangement with Napoleon to occupy Hanover, until 
peace should be concluded between Britain and France. 
He added that hostilities between Prussia and France 
were most improbable, that the King was about to 
recall Tolstoy's troops from North Germany, and that 
he saw no advantage in any continuance of the British 
troops in that quarter. Harrowby took his leave on 
the same day, first sending a letter to inform Cathcart 
of his departure, which message, however, did not 
Jan. 21. reach that General until the 21st. Cathcart without 
delay sought Tolstoy, who had always been frank and 
open with him, and learned that fifty thousand Prussians 
were on the march to occupy Hanover in force. A 
few days later he received a copy of Haugwitz's treaty 
of the 15th of December, with an intimation from the 
British Minister in Berlin that it had been ratified 
(which was not strictly correct), and would be carried 
into effect at once. Almost immediately afterwards 
he received orders from England tg re-embark his 
force, which was now over twenty-six thousand strong, 1 
for the King's German Legion had increased by one- 
Feb. 13. third during its stay in Germany. By the 13th of 
Feb. 15. February all was ready, and on the 15th the army 
sailed with a fair wind, leaving Hanover to the tender 
mercies of Prussia, possibly with a hope, and most 

1 British. — 1 / Coldstream Guards ; i/3rd Guards; 1 /3rd, 1 /4th, 
i/5th,f i/8th, i/9th, 1/14-th, i/23rd, i/26th,f 2 /zy th,t i/28th, 
i/3oth,t 2/34 th > i/3^th, 1/89A, 1/9151, i/95th* R.A.; R.E. 
Waggon Train. 

(+5 companies only arrived ; J 6 companies only arrived ; * only 4 com- 
panies sent.) 

Germans. — 1st and 2nd Heavy Dragoons ; 1st and 3rd Light 
Dragoons ; 1st and 2nd Light Battalions ; 1st to 7th Line 
Battalions ; Regiment of Artillery. 

Total-. British . 510 officers ; 14,058 N.C.O.'s and men. 
„ German . 382 „ 11,693 „ „ 

892 25,751 


certainly with an ardent wish, that Prussia might pay 1 
dearly for it. 

Such was the end of the expedition to the Weser, 
not a small expedition measured by the standard of that 
day, and not destined, as was thought, to play an 
unimportant part. It proved to be an egregious farce ; 
but at this distance of time it is perhaps difficult to 
judge of it aright. The general idea of operating upon 
Napoleon's flank and rear was no doubt sound ; but 
for success the whole plan depended necessarily on 
Prussia. The King of Sweden was so uncertain and 
his force so small that his help was of little moment ; 
but the Russian contingent was an important matter, 
and these troops could not obtain access to the sphere 
of action without leave from Prussia ; nor in truth 
could any important operation be undertaken without 
the actual aid of Prussian regiments. Was Prussia a 
power to be counted upon at such a crisis ? To this 
question all previous experience since the French 
Revolution answered emphatically in the negative. 
Blindness, timidity, self-seeking and double-dealing 
had from the first been the special characteristics of the 
Court of Berlin ; and, while Frederick William remained 
in power, it was hopeless to look for change or improve- 
ment. It may of course be urged, probably with some 
correctness, that Cathcart's army was intended to play 
a diplomatic part, partly tempting and partly forcing 
Prussia to join the Coalition. But was it likely that a 
man who would not keep his engagements with his 
dearest friend and most powerful patron, Alexander of 
Russia, but compelled him almost to extort the fulfil- 
ment of them by armed strength — was it likely that 
such a man would learn strength of purpose and 
common honesty from an unskilful negotiator such as 
Harrowby, backed by a handful of British soldiers? 
There was therefore some further motive to prompt the 
dispatch of this futile expedition ; and this was almost 
certainly the anxiety of the British Government to have 
a British force in Holland when the overthrow of 



1806. Napoleon should be accomplished. This idea of 
eternal petty expeditions to the Netherlands was a 
mania with Pitt, which he most unfortunately bequeathed 
to his successors. The ultimate destiny of Holland 
was no doubt of overwhelming importance to England ; 
but it was idle to suppose that England's part in the 
shaping of that destiny would be determined by a small 
party of red-coats on the spot rather than by the 
successful operations of a strong British force against 
France in another quarter. Yet such seems to have 
been the fixed idea of Pitt and his colleagues. They 
appear to have argued that the expedition to the Weser 
might simultaneously answer a number of ends. It 
might cause Prussia to declare against Napoleon, in 
which case it might lead to the recovery of Holland ; 
at all events it would collect recruits for the King's 
German Legion, and show the earnestness of the 
British intentions. But, if Napoleon won a great 
victory over the Russians, the whole enterprise fell 
to the ground, for every one in Europe knew that 
Prussia would side with the conqueror. On the 
other hand, if Cathcart's troops had been thrown 
into Italy together with Craig's, then, no matter what 
the action of Prussia, no matter what the success or 
failure of Austria and Russia, the diversion was 
bound to tell. Such employment of an army for a 
definite military purpose was, however, outside the 
scope of Pitt's intelligence. That military and diplo- 
matic operations can go hand in hand, each seconding 
and abetting the other, no man understood better 
than Napoleon ; and his perfect mastery of the art 
of combining the two constitutes one of his greatest 
claims to supreme genius in the conduct of war. Pitt 
had some inkling of the advantages of this art, but 
lamentable ignorance of its practice. For this reason 
again and again he sent generals to different quarters of 
Europe with vague orders to do something, no great j 
matter what, but at any rate something, which would 
show that England was an active ally. Such was the 


purport of the instructions which Abercromby carried 1806. 
to Holland in 1799, Craig to the Mediterranean, and 
Cathcart to North Germany in 1805, with results that 
are too well known to us. By this purposeless dis- 
tribution of troops the armed force of England was 
frittered away in paltry and useless detachments ; for, if 
an expedition is to do nothing in particular, there is no 
reason why it should consist of forty thousand men 
rather than four thousand. The practice was infinitely 
mischievous. It demoralised the men ; it discouraged 
the officers ; it took the heart out of the Generals. 
More than any other cause it brought about that readi- 
ness to re-embark and to abandon enterprises which 
made the British Army the laughing-stock alike of its 
own nation and of Europe. 

Before Cathcart returned Pitt was dead, worn out Jan. 23 
by disease, anxiety, and overwork. Wholly unsuccessful 
as he was as a Minister of War, it were ill to dismiss 
so great a man with no eye but for his military failures. 
The story of his genius as an administrator during ten 
years of peace must be left to others to tell, but that of 
his leadership of England through a time of supreme 
peril must not be set aside without brief commemoration 
in a military history. It was well that at a time when 
many were dazzled by the spectacle of a great people 
uprising in blind fury to conquer what it hoped might 
be its liberty, the forces of order should have found 
such a champion as Pitt. It is true that, as such, he 
was bound to join or to seek as allies rulers so abject as 
the Bourbons of Naples and Sicily, so contemptible as 
Frederick William of Prussia, so insane as Paul of 
Russia and Gustavus of Sweden, so weak as the Emperor 
Francis ; but that was the misfortune of his time, not 
the demerit of his cause. For the crusade of the 
Revolution as initiated by the Girondists, continued by 
the Convention and the Directory, and finally prose- 
cuted to its death by Napoleon, was a crusade not of 
liberty but of enslavement. It was against this that 
Pitt stood forth, as a man who had learned the nature or 



1806. freedom not from the writings of sentimental dreamers, 
but from the history and the wisdom of his own 
countrymen, and was aware that it is a " plant of slow 
growth," which has its roots in patience, charity, and 
self-respect, and cannot be forced into blossom by 
violence, intolerance, and spoliation. Amid reptile 
Bourbons, cringing Hohenzollerns, and irresolute 
Hapsburgs, the figure of Pitt towers aloft gigantic ; 
and gigantic not from the meanness of their stature 
only. For this was a man of such singleness of purpose, 
such immovable integrity, such dauntless courage, such 
lofty patriotism, that he could not but exalt and purify 
any cause that he embraced. To Englishmen he was 
the incarnation of uprightness, and he was trusted by 
them accordingly. He could not be infallible, and he 
was frequently deceived. At a time when the world 
was agitated by forces which seemed to be beyond the 
range of human experience, the insight and calculations 
of the ablest statesman might easily be at fault. But 
the people felt certain that he would take the course 
which he thought best and most worthy for the country, 
and would pursue it with perfect contempt of possible 
disadvantage or danger to himself, so only his honour 
should be safe. Napoleon ascribed the extraordinary 
ascendancy of his great rival to his eloquence, and 
envied him his gift of oratory. He was mistaken. 
Pitt's strength lay in his perfect straight-forwardness 1 
and unblemished character, without which his speeches, 
in these days unreadable, might have seemed wearisome 
even to his contemporaries. So great an example was 
not lost upon his successors, even the least of whom 
faced Napoleon with a boldness which modern French : l 
historians survey with astonished admiration ; and in \ 
truth England's part in the struggle was dignified to 
the very end by the commanding nobility of William 





The Ministry which succeeded to power upon the death 1806. 
of Pitt was that known by the name of All the Talents ; 
and the array of great names was such as to justify the 
title. Lord Grenville was Prime Minister ; Fox was 
at the Foreign Office ; Charles Grey, later Lord 
Howick and Earl Grey of the Reform Bill, at the 
Admiralty ; Lord Moira at the Office of Ordnance ; and 
William Windham in charge of the department of 
War and the Colonies. This last appointment was 
significant, for Windham had been the most bitter 
critic of the military measures of Addington and Pitt, 
and there could be little doubt that he would introduce 
drastic reforms. Nor were reforms unnecessary, for 
the "Twenty Pound Act," as Pitt's Additional Force 
Act had been nicknamed, was conclusively proved to 
be an utter failure. Attempts had been made at the 
end of 1805 to galvanise it into life by increasing the 
reward to the parochial officials for every recruit that 
they might levy, and by sending military officers round 
the country to instruct them in their duties. Nor had 
these efforts been wholly unsuccessful. In all some 
thirteen thousand men had been attested under the Act ; 
and Pitt's supporters maintained that since the be- 
ginning of 1806 it had furnished on an average three 
hundred recruits a week. But these figures were 
fallacious. Of the thirteen thousand enlisted, nearly 
three thousand had deserted ; and investigation showed 
that the remainder had for the most part been purchased 
from crimps, which was the thing that Pitt had been 




1806, specially anxious to avoid. The fate of the Act was 
therefore certain. The one thing uncertain was the 
nature of the new plan that should follow upon its 

April 3. On the 3rd of April Windham in a speech to the 
Commons set all doubts upon the subject at rest. 
After a long preliminary discussion of the methods 
employed for raising men in the past, he laid it down 
that voluntary enlistment alone was possible to recruit 
the Army for service abroad, and that to make 
voluntary enlistment a success the Army must be 
rendered an eligible calling. This object could be easily 
accomplished by an increase of pay ; but such a resource 
was economically impossible. Much might neverthe- 
less be done by encouragements and rewards, and by 
limiting military service to a term of years instead of 
extending it, as heretofore, for life. He proposed 
therefore to allow every two years' service in the West 
Indies to count as three ; to increase the scale of 
pensions ; and to allow men to enlist in future for a 
short period, at the end of which they could engage 
for a second term, with a slight increase of wages, and 
again for a third term with a further increase. At the 
end of the second term they would be entitled to a 
pension roughly equivalent to half pay ; and at the end 
of the third term they would finally retire on little less 
than full pay. The three periods of service for infantry 
were to be each of seven years ; for cavalry, ten, seven, 
and seven years ; for artillery, twelve, five, and five 
years. By this arrangement he confidently believed 
that the ranks of the Regular Army would be kept 
permanently filled. 

The proposition was bold and startling, but it 
was not novel ; and it seems tolerably certain that 
Windham really borrowed it from Robert Craufurd, 
who had repeatedly declared his belief in short service. 
To sound the feeling of the Army upon the subject, 
the Duke of York had in 1804 called for the opinions 
of fourteen prominent General Officers, seven of whom, 


including Lord Moira, were in favour of the change, 1 
six were against it, and one was doubtful. It was, how- 
ever, remarkable that General Hewett, the Inspector- 
general of Recruiting, was strongly opposed to it, and 
that Sir John Moore wrote an impatient answer, as 
though the proposition were hardly worth discussing. 
In his view it was idle to talk of keeping the Army 
full except by some form of compulsion, in which case 
service ought certainly to be limited in point of time ; 
but no change in the terms of enlistment would procure 
men who could not be obtained without it. "If," he 
argued with much force, " limited service and enormous 
bounties could tempt men to enlist, would the Army of 
Reserve and the Permanent Additional Force created 
by Mr. Pitt's Act be incomplete ? " However, the 
House was very willing to give Windham's plan a fair 
trial ; and the necessary legislation was easily effected 
by a few changes in the schedules of the Mutiny Act. 
On the other hand, Windham guarded) himself against 
possible danger from the total failure of the system by 
a second measure, which permitted fifteen in every 
hundred men of the Irish Militia to enlist in the Army 
every year, thereby assuring a supply of from three to 
four thousand recruits from this service annually. 
Pitt's Act was repealed ; the fines, amounting to 
^1,800,000, which were due from defaulting parishes, 
were remitted ; and the traditions of military policy 
inherited from Pitt, so far as they concerned the 
Regular Army, were definitely abandoned. 

Nor did Windham shrink from making an equal 
break with the past in respect of the rest of the land- 
forces. The ballot was suspended for two years, until 
the strength of the Regular Militia should be reduced 
to the establishment of 1802 ; and Windham did not 
conceal his hope that in future the ranks of that force 
might be filled by voluntary enlistment for a reasonable 
bounty. Finally he turned upon the Volunteers, 
whom he had always condemned as a costly encumbrance, 
and announced his intentions of gradually taking away 

304 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xm 

1806. all their allowances, and of withdrawing privileges 
and exemptions of every kind from all corps which 
accepted more from Government than their arms 
and accoutrements. To create a force which should 
take their place, he introduced and passed an Act 
which, after repealing the First Defence Act and the 
Levy en Masse Act, provided for the training of all 
the men in the country who were liable to service in 
the Militia. Two hundred thousand of them, chosen 
by ballot, were to be called out every year and trained 
for not more than twenty -four days, for wages of 
one shilling for each day, and at no greater distance 
than five miles from their homes. Substitutes were 
forbidden, but exemption from one year's service 
could be purchased by a fine of £10 ; and every man 
who had undergone one year's training was exempt 
from the ballot for two years. No provision was 
made for the organisation of the men into companies 
or battalions, though the King was empowered to 
appoint officers and non-commissioned officers to in- 
struct them ; but in case of invasion the trained men 
could either be formed into new corjps or embodied 
with old corps ; and it was Windham's firm intention 
that at any crisis of national danger the trained men 
should be drafted into regiments of the Line. 

Thus at last some effort was made to exercise the 
manhood of the country in arms for its defence, a step 
which ought to have been taken by Pitt in 1794. 
But though the principle of the measure was right and 
sound, the details were crude and, as the sequel showed, 
insufficient. Windham's idea apparently was so to 
instruct the nation in the use of weapons that, after 
augmenting the Regular battalions to the greatest 
strength compatible with efficiency, the citizens should 
group themselves into bands under local leaders, and 
carry on a harassing warfare after the fashion of La 
Vendee. There was and there is very much to be said 
for such warfare against an invading enemy. Indeed 
the lesson cannot be too strongly impressed upon the 


body of the people that, if a foreign force should land 1806. 
on their shores, every citizen who kills, captures or, to 
use the modern phrase, puts out of action even a single 
man of the enemy, has rendered a national service. 
When every straggler, every messenger, every unwary 
sentry, every weak patrol and every small party is 
taken, shot, or knocked on the head, war speedily 
becomes a weariness to the invaders, as the French 
discovered in Spain from 1808 to 1813, the Germans 
in France in the winter of 1870, and as we ourselves 
have learned from more than one experience. But 
though Windham's Act professed to train the nation to 
the use of arms, its author had only the haziest notions 
as to the manner in which instruction should be 
imparted ; and it seems that for this most important 
matter he relied upon the parish-constables. These 
functionaries were required to be present at all exercise 
of the men ballotted under the Act, in order to arrest 
any who should be guilty of misconduct and bring them 
before a magistrate, who could punish them by fine, or 
by imprisonment in default of payment. The House 
of Commons, while giving those enactments the force of 
law, was greatly disposed, and with very good reason, to 
treat them as a joke. Nevertheless in due time a man 
arose who was able, as shall be seen, to take what was 
good in Windham's Act and turn it to useful account. 

Meanwhile the state of the Army for the moment 
was by no means unsatisfactory. In March the Regular 
force at home, which had been recruited for general 
service, numbered, including the King's German Legion, 
twenty-two thousand cavalry, sixty thousand infantry, 
xnd ten thousand artillery. There was no danger of 
nvasion, so that from thirty to forty thousand men 
were at disposal for offensive operations. Moreover, 
the year had opened well with the news, which arrived 
it the end of February, that the expedition to the Cape 
}f Good Hope had been completely successful. It will 
oe convenient before going further to give a brief 
iccount of this campaign. 




1805. Baird's force, as has already been told, was a part of 
that which had been embarked at Cork for despatch to 
Jamaica in 1805, upon the alarm of Villeneuve's raid in 
the West Indies. It consisted of rather more than six 
thousand men, 1 two hundred of which were cavalry ; 
and Baird was ordered, immediately after fulfilling the 
object of his mission, to send the Thirty-eighth, Fifty- 
ninth, and Twentieth Light Dragoons to India. The 
convoy, consisting of sixty-one transports escorted by 
nine men-of-war under Commodore Sir Home Popham, 

Aug. 31. sailed from Cork on the 31st of August, reached 
Funchal in Madeira on the 28 th of September, and 
sailing again on the 3rd of October, put into Bahia 

Nov. 10. on the 10th of November. A transport and a store- 
ship were wrecked while working into the bay, and 
Brigadier Yorke, who was in command of the artillery, 
was drowned, together with two men. After making 
good defects, the ships again sailed on the 26th of 
l8o 6 December, made the land in the neighbourhood of 
Jan. 4. Table Bay on the morning of the 4th of January 1806, 
and on the evening of the same day came to anchor 
between Robben Island and the Blueberg. Baird had 
intended to land next morning at an inlet in the coast 
to the north of Melkbosel Point and within sixteen 
miles of Capetown ; but during the night a gale set in 
and, though one brigade was actually ordered into the 
boats, the surf was too heavy to allow a landing. He 
Jan. 5. therefore, on the night of the 5th, detached Beresford 
with the Thirty-eighth and his few mounted men to 
Saldanha Bay, sending a frigate in advance to take 

1 3 cos. R.A. 

. 285 

i/8 3 rd . 


Royal Staff Corps 


1 /93rd . 


1 /24th Foot 

• 493 

i/5 9 th . 


1/38A . 

. 913 



i/7ist . 

• 764 

20th L.D. 



• 599 

Total . 


Add one-eighth for officers and 

sergeants . 




possession of the port and secure, if possible, horses and 1806. 
cattle. He himself had intended to follow with the 
rest of the army on the morrow ; but on the morning 
of the 6th the surf had so far abated as to make dis- j an . 6. 
embarkation possible ; and accordingly the Highland 
Brigade 1 was ordered into the boats under command of 
Brigadier Ferguson, who had previously made careful 
reconnaissance of the coast. There was no force to 
oppose a landing except a single company of burgher 

I militia, which was kept at a respectful distance by the 
guns of four ships ; and the chief danger arose from 
the surf, which was still violent. A small transport was 
run aground to act as a breakwater, and thanks to this 

I precaution and to the skill of the bluejackets, one boat 
only, containing thirty-six men of the Ninety-third, was 
swamped. Every one of the unlucky Highlanders was 
drowned ; and these together with another man killed, 
two officers and two more men wounded by the bullets 
of the burghers, constituted the only casualties of the 
disembarkation. The rest of the force with some 
artillery and supplies was landed next day ; and the first Jan. 7 
and greatest difficulty of the expedition was overcome. 

It seems surprising that the Dutch commander, 
General Janssens, having had full forty-eight hours' 
warning, should have made no better preparations for 
resistance ; but in truth every circumstance was adverse 
to him. By the use of signal guns he alarmed the 
whole country within fifty leagues of Capetown ; but 
the wheat was threshing ; the grapes were ripening ; 
the farmers were in the midst of their busiest season ; 
and the heat was such that journeys could only be 
undertaken by night. Apart from the burghers, the 
resources of Janssens were small. He had one battalion 
of Waldeck mercenaries four hundred strong ; a second 
of half that number, consisting of sharp-shooters 
recruited from all nations ; and a third — the Twenty- 
second regiment of the Dutch line — besides a few 
dragoons and artillery, making up a total of twelve 
1 71st, 72nd, 93rd. 



1806. hundred regular troops. In addition to these he had j 
two hundred and forty French sailors, between three 
and four hundred coloured artillerymen and infantry, 
and rather over two hundred burghers, the whole 
composing a heterogeneous and ill-assorted force such 
as is seldom brought together. However, he collected 
it for what it might be worth, in all about two 
thousand men with sixteen guns, and at one o'clock on 
Jan. 8. the morning of the 8 th he marched out towards the 
Blueberg to meet the British. 

On the same morning and at nearly the same hour 
Baird likewise began his march upon Capetown with over 
four thousand men, two howitzers and six light guns, 
and seized the heights of the Blueberg before Janssens 
could reach them. From thence discerning the Dutch 
General in the act of forming line of battle to encounter j : 
him, he divided his force into two columns ; the t 
Highland Brigade advancing straight on the road to i 
Capetown, and the remaining brigade 1 turning off to 2 
the right. Arriving within cannon-shot, Baird opened ( 
fire from his artillery and was answered by the Dutch i 
guns ; but, at the sight of a few rouni shot falling near t 
them, the Waldeckers turned and ran. The Dutch jj 
Twenty-second thereupon also gave way, and, after f 
rallying for a moment under Janssens in person, fled I 
again at the sight of the Highlanders advancing and i 
could not be stopped. They had suffered little, for the ? 
Highland Brigade had committed the fault, rare in t 
British troops, of firing a volley at long range before - 
closing with the bayonet ; and indeed the behaviour of ; 
this Dutch Twenty-second and the Waldeckers was the • 
more discreditable since the rest of Janssens' troops, • 
French, Dutch, and negroes, regulars and irregulars, c 
stood and fought with great gallantry. However, with j 
his line thus weakened, Janssens had no alternative but j 
to fall back. At Rietvlei he was able to collect what | . 
was left of his force, when he sent the Waldeckers to c 
Capetown in disgrace, and led the rest, with the | 
1 24th, 59th, 83rd, 


exception of the French sailors, into the mountains of 1806. 
Hottentot Holland. His losses appear to have some- 
what exceeded two hundred killed and wounded. 
Those of the British were one officer and fourteen men 
killed, nine officers and one hundred and eighty-eight 
men killed, wounded, and missing. Five-sixths of the 
casualties occurred in the three Highland battalions, the 
remaining brigade having been but little engaged. It 
is worthy of note that Baird reported Janssens' force to 
be five thousand instead of two thousand strong, and 
yet contrived that only the Highland Brigade should be 
j employed in the fight. Such proceedings long have 
w been, and still are, far too common among our Scottish 
i Generals. 

On the evening of the action Baird bivouacked 
I at Rietvlei, in much anxiety as to the possibility of 
! obtaining provisions from the fleet. Popham, however, 
I by great exertions contrived to throw a small quantity 

ashore ; and on the 9th the army pushed forward to Jan. 9. 

Capetown over arid sand, taking up a position at Salt 
) River, about a mile and a half north of the town, where 

the General hoped to ensure communication with the 
* fleet and if necessary to land his siege-train. Here 
I Beresford and his detachment joined the army, and here 

Baird received overtures for a suspension of arms from 

the Commandant at Capetown ; with the result that 

I within twenty-four hours a capitulation was signed and 

i| the town was occupied by the British. Janssens still Jan. 10. 

:| remained to be dealt with, but his force was fast 

\\ dwindling owing to desertion ; and Baird, while making 

I his dispositions to attack and cut him off, endeavoured 

, \ to end matters by a letter complimenting him upon his 

,1 gallantry, urging the fruitlessness of resistance, and 

j offering honourable terms for the surrender of the 

j colony. After a little hesitation these were accepted, 

I and on the 18th of January was signed the final Jan. 18. 

} capitulation which delivered Cape Colony to the British. 1 
, 11 

1 R.O. Cape of Good Hope. Military Transactions, i. pp. 104- 
i 142 ; TheaPs History of South Africa, i. 138-15 0. 

310 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xm 

1806. So far all had gone well. The capture of the Cape, 
of course, signified the locking up of from three to four 
thousand men in a distant garrison, but this was no 
great price to pay for the safety of India. There was 
little to be feared from the inhabitants. The Dutch 
and French troops, which had formed the bulk of 
Janssens' army, were sent back to Europe under the 
treaty of surrender ; and the enlistment of the Wal- 
deckers from the Dutch into the British service more 
than made good the casualties of Baird's short campaign. 
An additional stroke of luck came soon after. The 
Dutch colours were kept flying in Table Bay for some 
time after the country had past into British hands ; 
and a French frigate, deceived by this wile, sailed into 
the anchorage and was at once taken. She proved to 11 
have on board several companies of the Second and t 
Fifty-fourth British regiments, which she had captured in 1 
transports at the mouth of the Channel, and was carry- is 
ing to Mauritius. These men were homeward bound !; 
from the Mediterranean, so that they were isolated 
from their battalions, but at all events they were : 
recovered, and were no unwelcome^addition to the 0 
garrison at the moment. Unfortunately, however, c< 
Baird chose to turn this windfall to the worst possible 0 

Sir Home Popham, the commander of the fleet : 
which had escorted Baird, was a restless officer of 0 
insinuating manners, who had early in his career gained B 
favour in high places. In 1793 and 1794 he had been n 
entrusted with the charge of gun-boats, pontoons, and 
similar matters under the Duke of York, and had 
acquitted himself always with credit. Running back- 
wards and forwards between the Low Countries and 
England with despatches, he had been seen and consulted 
by Ministers, and, being always ready with a decided 
opinion upon any enterprise, enjoyed, in a quiet way, con- | r 
siderable influence with them. He was by no means . |c 
without ability. He had devised and was constantly 
improving a code of naval signals ; and in the matter of 


ch. x HISTORY OF THE ARMY 3 1 1 

embarking and disembarking troops in an enemy's 1806. 
country he was full of skill and resource. He had 
worked so much with the Army that he thoroughly 
understood the service, and would spare no pains 
to ensure the health and comfort of any troops with 
which he was concerned. In the Navy also he was 
« popular, for he looked carefully to the interest of the 
men and officers under his immediate command, 
particularly in the matter of prize-money, which was 
frequently the main object of his operations* This, 
indeed, was his weakest point. Constant employment 
in more or less independent stations had given him an 
opportunity of dabbling in mercantile transactions 
which, in the opinion of his contemporaries, were by 
no means to his credit. The same cause had led him 
to persuade himself that he was a great diplomatist and 
administrator; and in his distant command at the Cape 
he thought that he saw an opportunity for adding both 
to his wealth and to his importance. 

Already, in previous volumes of this history, the 
reader has encountered the name of Miranda, in 
connection with revolutionary movements in the Spanish 
colonies of South America. Miranda was a Venezuelan 
of Caracas, who in 1782 had been dismissed from the 
Spanish service under an accusation of complicity in illicit 
trading with North America and of corrupt delivery 
of the plans of the fortifications of Havana to the 
! British Government. From that time onwards he 
1 never ceased his efforts to drag the British Government 
; into countenancing and supporting a revolution in South 
1 America. In 1783 he put forward a complete plan for 
I the emancipation of the Spanish Colonies with the help 
of England, but was repulsed by Fox and North. In 
1 1790, at the time of the dispute over Nootka Sound, he 
i brought the same plan before Pitt and, though cordially 
! received, was foiled by the pacific settlement of the 
controversy. Failing then to obtain a pension from 
Pitt, he entered the service of the French Republic and 
I fought under Dumouriez. In 1796, upon the outbreak 



of war between England and Spain, he again sought 
Pitt, and so far commended his scheme to the Ministry 
and its advisers that, as we have seen, an expedition was 
actually prepared, and only abandoned with the greatest 
reluctance and regret. On this occasion he contrived 
to enlist the sympathy not only of Henry Dundas 
and Popham but even of so sober a person as Lord 
Grenville. When he found that England had her hands 
already overfull, he returned in 1801 to France to try 
his fortune there. As however he could obtain nothing 
from Bonaparte, he came once again to England in 
1802, when Addington gave him encouragement and 
countenance, though shrinking from the final step of 
equipping a ship for him. But, when Pitt returned 
to office, Miranda and Popham, having already gained 
over Lord Melville 1 at the Admiralty, urged their views 
upon the Prime Minister with increased vehemence ; 
and matters went so far that Popham on the 16th of 
October 1804 produced a long memorandum, working 
out the details of an expedition to South America. 
Sir Arthur Wellesley, at the request of Ministers, like- 
wise compiled similar particulars for~a descent upon 
the Orinoco. 

Nothing however came of this, though Popham 
afterwards affirmed that, from his recollection of what 
had passed, the Ministry had given him a free hand to 
make a descent upon Buenos Ayres. It is possible that 
both Pitt and Melville were guilty of some indiscretion 
in their frequent conversations with Popham, for the 
enterprise was exactly of a nature to captivate their 
unmilitary minds. Popham averred that the imports 
from South America into Spain in produce and specie 
were worth some twenty millions annually, that two- 
thirds of this sum passed into the hands of France 
and that, unless the British anticipated him, Bonaparte 
would shortly send expeditions to Vera Cruz, Mexico, 
Brazil, and Rio de la Plata. How Napoleon was to 
send so large a force over the sea with a navy so inferior 

1 This of course was the Henry Dundas above mentioned. 


to England's Popham did not pause to explain nor the 1806. 
Ministers to inquire. Lord Grenville, on the other 
i hand, had taken a truer measure of Miranda than his 
late colleagues and, whatever he may have thought 
I of him in 1796, was unwilling to trust him in 1804 ; 
1 but, being in opposition during Pitt's administration, he 
i was of course without influence with the party in power, 
j The truth is that Miranda was simply a shallow, 
I unscrupulous adventurer, not wholly innocent of knavery, 
I and that Popham's character at bottom perhaps differed 
not very greatly from that of Miranda. 1 

The result of all these discussions as to seconding a 
revolutionary movement in South America was that 
Popham, finding himself at the Cape with a fairly 
strong squadron and no immediate work to be done, 
thought the opportunity a good one to make a sensational 
stroke for his own hand. He therefore besought 
Baird to trust him with a battalion in order to make 
a beginning by the capture of Buenos Ayres and of the 
province now known by the name of Argentina. It says 
much for his powers of address that he could persuade 
Baird even to listen, for that General was hard, rough, 
difficult, and jealous of his own authority. But a Scot 
is rarely loth to perpetrate a job for his own countrymen. 
The General therefore told the Commander that if he 
chose to take his own regiment, the Seventy-first, he 
might do so, but that he should have no other. 
Popham gladly accepted the offer. The Seventy-first 
was embarked under the command of Colonel Beresford, 
the future marshal of Portugal, together with a few 
artillerymen r four guns, and a handful of dragoons; 2 and 

1 Athenaum, April 19, 1902, Pitt and General Miranda, by- 
Hubert Hall ; Popham's memo, of 1 6th Oct. 1804 in Popham to 
Sec. of State of 30th April 1806 ; Dropmore Papers. 

2 R.A., 3 officers, 33 n.c.o. and men, 4 guns (2 complete with 

horses and drivers) 

20th L.D. 1 officer, 6 men. 
71st Foot. 32 „ 883 „ 

Total 36 officers, 922 men. Also 60 women (6 to each company) 
and 40 children. 



1 806. the Colonel received instructions intimating that, in 
Baird's opinion, a force of less than a thousand men, with 
a few seamen and marines, was sufficient to master the 
Spanish possessions on Rio de la Plata — a country half 
as large as Europe, with a capital containing seventy 
thousand souls. In case of failure, continued the 
instructions, Beresford was to return at once with all 
his troops to the Cape. This clause was very neces- 
sary ; for Popham was quite capable of making a 
long marauding voyage round the Spanish settlements 
after the Elizabethan fashion. The Commodore then 
ordered the whole of his squadron to get under way, 
leaving not a single ship upon the station ; and on 

April 14. the 14th of April the armament, much envied by the 
rest of the garrison, sailed away to the west. 1 

For a week the voyage was prosperous ; but on the 

April 21. 2 1 st one of the transports with two hundred men on 
board parted company and disappeared, diminishing the 
military force so seriously that Popham thought it 
prudent to bear up for St. Helena. From thence he and 
Beresford wrote to England on the 30th to report what 
they had done ; Popham with long and elaborate explana- 
tions which betrayed his consciousness of having acted 
amiss ; Beresford with a short but urgent appeal for 
instructions as to his dealings with the inhabitants. 
Popham then contrived to wheedle the Governor of St. 
Helena into granting him a reinforcement of nearly four 
hundred men 2 from the garrison of the island ; and on 

May 21. the 2 1 st of May the armament resumed its voyage to 
Rio de la Plata. After a long and tedious passage Cape 
St. Mary, which marks the northern side of the entrance 
June 8. to the river, was sighted on the 8th of June ; Popham 
himself together with an officer of engineers having gone 
forward in a frigate on the 27th of May to explore the 
navigation of the channel and reconnoitre the country. 


1 Baird to Sec. of State, 14th April 1806 ; "Recollections of the j 
British Army," in Colburne's Military Magazine, June 1836. 

2 Artillery : 1 officer, 10 1 n.c.o. and men. St. Helena Infantry : 
8 officers, 278 n.c.o. and men. 


Owing to fogs and baffling winds the convoy did not 1806. 
overtake this frigate until the 14th of June ; and then June 14 
the two commanders decided that the point to be 
attacked must be the open town of Buenos Ayres. 

This, it must be remarked, was a serious deviation 
from Popham's original plans. Monte Video was the 
place which he had at first intended to occupy, for he 
trusted, upon extremely slender information, that its 
fortifications were in ruins and that it would surrender 
without firing a shot. His design had then been to 
send the few Spanish regular troops in the country to 
Europe, and by repairing the defences of the city to 
give the British a place of arms from which they would 
not be easily dislodged, or where, at worst, they could 
have some chance of a safe re-embarkation. The 
reason alleged for his change of plan was that the bread- 
stuffs of the troops were exhausted, that none could be 
spared from the men-of-war, and that there was greater 
certainty of collecting supplies at Buenos Ayres than at 
Monte Video. The cogency of such arguments must 
be admitted ; but with our knowledge of Popham's 
antecedents and character, it may also be suspected that 
the Commodore doubted the success of an attack upon 
Monte Video, and that he therefore declared for an 
immediate movement on Buenos Ayres, where he could 
be sure of finding the object of which he was really in 
search, namely prize-money. 1 

Accordingly such troops as were in the line-of-battle 
ships were transferred to transports of lighter draught ; 
and on the 16th the vessels moved up the river, groping June 16 
their way slowly owing to fogs and difficulty of naviga- 
tion. At length on the night of the 24th of June they June 24 
lay off Buenos Ayres, and next morning reached Point June 25 
de Quilmes, some eight miles below the city. The dis- 
embarkation was accomplished without mishap or 
opposition in the course of the afternoon and night, 
though a hostile force was visible two miles away upon 

1 Popham to Sec. of State, 30th April ; Beresford to Sec. of 
State, 30th April ; to Baird, 2nd July 1806. 



1 806. a slight eminence at the village of Reduction. 1 At eleven 
June 26. o'clock on the next morning Beresford moved off. The 
space between his camping ground and Reduction was 
a level plain which the rains of winter would presently 
convert into a swamp, but which was at the moment 
passable even by guns. The enemy numbered about 
two thousand men, chiefly undisciplined cavalry, with 
eight guns ; and as the open character of the ground 
forbade any attempt at a turning movement, Beresford 
formed the bulk of his force into a single line with two 
six-pounders upon each flank and two howitzers in the 
centre, holding only the St. Helena Infantry with two 
more field-guns at a short distance in rear, in case the 
Spanish cavalry should menace his flanks. On coming 
within range of the enemy the advance was checked by 
a tongue of swamp, and Beresford halted his line to 
enable the guns to pass round it. The forward move- 
ment was then resumed and the Spanish cannon opened 
a well-aimed fire. Beresford's troops therefore quickened 
step, found themselves plunging into another swamp, 
which brought the guns to a standstill, but hastened on 
in spite of all difficulties to the foot of-ihe hill occupied 
by the Spaniards. The enemy's artillery, being ill- 
served, did small damage after the first few minutes ; 
their infantry retired when the British reached the foot 
of the hill ; and a few volleys from the crest scattered 
the whole force in precipitate flight. Four guns were 
the trophies of this insignificant combat, and Beresford 
halted for two hours to find the means of moving them, 

Force disembarked- 









» 33 

St. Helena Artillery . 

„ IOI 

20th L.D. 

» 6 



„ 833 

St. Helena Infantry 


» 175 


Marines . 

• 9 

» 33i 



. 10 

» 9° 



. 70 

off., 1571 


3 horses, 

1 3 „ four 6 prs. 

two 5^-in. 

two light 3 prs. 


and also to extricate his own pieces from the swamp. 1806. 
This done, he marched at once to secure the one bridge 
over the Rio Chuelo, a small stream about thirty yards 
wide which lay about eight miles from Reduction, 
barring the way to Buenos Ayres. Before he could 
reach it he perceived that the bridge was in flames, and 
though he pushed forward a small detachment in the 
hope of saving at least a part of it, he found that he was 
too late. The enemy could be heard through the 
darkness moving guns down for the defence of the 
passage ; and Beresford therefore called the detachment 
back to the main body, a mile from the river, where 
he bivouacked for the night. 

At dawn of the next morning reconnaissance showed June 27. 
that the enemy was in position on the further bank, 
sheltered by houses, hedges, and shipping, whereas the 
hither bank offered no cover nor shelter of any kind. 
Beresford at once brought forward to the water's edge 
the light company of the Seventy-first together with his 
eleven guns, and was received by a wild and ill-aimed 
fire of all arms. His artillery soon silenced that of the 
Spaniards, and the passage of a few British troops in 
rafts and boats brought the enemy's feeble resistance to 
an end. By eleven o'clock the whole British force had 
passed the river ; no enemy was to be seen in the 
three miles that separated the stream from Buenos 
Ayres ; and Beresford sent a summons to the Governor 
to surrender. After a short parley the terms were 
agreed upon ; Beresford granting to the garrison the 
honours of war and to the people protection of private 
property, with continuance of the existing municipal and 
judicial authority, and restoration of captured coasting 
vessels to their owners. Upon these conditions, and at 
a cost of one man killed and a dozen wounded, 
Beresford's handful of troops obtained possession of a 
town of seventy thousand inhabitants with fortifications 
containing eighty-six guns of all calibres. 1 

So far Popham's audacious stroke was crowned with 
1 Beresford to Sec. of State, nth July 1806. 

3i 8 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1806. success, and success of the kind which was dearest to 
his heart, for Beresford sent home nearly eleven hundred 
thousand dollars of prize-money. But the situation of 
the British was critical, and Beresford was fully aware of 
it. There remained in the Colony about two thousand 
Spanish infantry, of poor quality indeed but still regular 
troops, besides four to five thousand irregulars, which 
could assemble at need ; and it was tolerably certain 
that these would fall upon the invaders with over- 
whelming strength upon the first appearance of weakness 
or misfortune. It was possible to conciliate the popula- 
tion of the city itself, but not that of the entire country ; 
and to reduce it to submission Beresford needed a strong 
force of cavalry, which he did not possess. Moreover, 
the coming of the British had thrown everything into 
disorder. The viceroy had fled into the interior ; and 
the inhabitants, while seizing the moment to shake off 
the yoke of Spain, had not yet yielded to their new 
masters. All therefore was unstable and unsettled. 
The one thing certain was that the Colonists were deeply 
ashamed of having surrendered to so puny a force, and 
not less alarmed at having no greater protection to count 
upon in case of an attack by an expedition from Spain. 
Their position was thus both unfair and intolerable. 
Beresford, while seeking to remove the most conspicuous 
of their grievances, rightly refused to commit the British 
Government to any definite line of policy. It was only 
natural, therefore, that the Colonists should regard his 
forcible intrusion upon them and his confiscation of the 
King of Spain's property as little better than an act of 
piracy. Popham might represent the proceedings as 
intended to further the cause of emancipation in South 
America ; but the Colonists were to be excused if they 
considered a British occupation of their capital as a 
strange and unwelcome form of liberty. 

Matters at Buenos Ayres had reached this point 
when, at the end of July, the letters of Beresford and 
Popham from St. Helena reached Downing Street. 
The enterprise having been undertaken without the 


knowledge or sanction of the Government, and its 1806. 
issue being still unknown, Windham was unable to 
give Beresford further instructions than to maintain 
himself if he could, to avoid all share in any revolu- 
tionary enterprises, and to interfere generally with the 
inhabitants as little as possible. If he found that he 
could not hold his own, then he was to send the troops 
back to the Cape and return home on leave. In any 
case, however, a reinforcement of two thousand men 
under Sir Samuel Auchmuty, together with supplies 
and stores, would be sent out to La Plata immediately. 1 
It is difficult to see what more, in the circumstances, 
the Government could have done ; for Popham, as it 
turned out, had chosen a singularly inopportune 
moment for his wild adventure. The victory of 
Austerlitz and the change of Government in England 
had led to rapid and startling results in Europe, to 
meet which the Ministry of all the Talents had need 
of all the resources of England. Austerlitz at a single 
stroke had driven Austria from the Coalition, wrecked 
the Holy Roman Empire, confirmed Prussia in a 
trembling neutrality, decided the fate of Naples, and 
incidentally clouded the victory of Trafalgar with the 
dust that rose from the collapse of Pitt's pygmy 
combinations in the Mediterranean. Napoleon's first 
act had been to reward his German allies by the grant 
of higher titles and the promise of large tracts of jg^. 
Austrian territory. These promises the Treaty of Dec. 26 
Pressburg enabled him to fulfil. Thereby Austria 
yielded to Baden and Wiirtemberg sundry petty fiefs ; 
to Bavaria, Tirol and Voralberg ; and to France every 
inch of territory that she had gained at Campo Formio ; 
recognising Napoleon also as King of Italy, and 
retaining on the Adriatic no more than Trieste. On 
the same day Napoleon ordered St. Cyr to march 
upon Naples ; on the 27th he decreed that the Dec. 27 
Bourbons had ceased to reign in that kingdom ; and 
on the 31st he nominated his brother Joseph to carry Dec. 31 
1 Sec. of State to Beresford, 24th July 1806. 



1805. his decree into effect. Months before, he had in- 
corporated the Ligurian Republic into the French 
Empire, and he now designed to make Holland, which 
was already a department of France, into a kingdom 
for his brother Louis. 

None the less when the Emperor returned to Paris 
on the 24th of January 1806 his further plans for 
the reconstitution of Germany were not yet feasible, 
and his situation was still an anxious one. The Tsar, 
despondent for the moment after Austerlitz, recovered 
himself and resumed his defiant attitude when he 
reached St. Petersburg. In the Mediterranean the 
British and Russians had been driven from Naples, 
but not yet from Sicily. Lastly there was always 
uncertainty as to the intentions of Prussia. It is 
true that Napoleon had extorted a favourable treaty 
from Haugwitz at Schonbrunn on the 15th of 
December, but it remained to be seen whether 
Frederick William would ratify it. As a matter of 
fact Haugwitz, returning triumphantly with his treaty, 
was extremely ill-received. Frederick William hated 
any definite arrangement which he could not evade; 
and Haugwitz had brought him back an alliance with 
France. The weak King again became violent for a 
time, and assured the Russian envoy that he would 
never divide his fate from that of the Tsar. Then 
he subsided into abjection and resolved to ratify the 
treaty with modifications. He would have the alliance 
with France to be purely defensive ; he would guarantee 
Venetia only, among the new acquisitions of France in 
Italy ; and he would hear of no guarantee for Naples until 
England sanctioned the transfer of Hanover to Prussia. 
He then again assured the Tsar of his unalterable 
friendship, ordered his troops to occupy Hanover — 
the one thing which he was sure that he wanted — and 
sent Haugwitz to Paris with the treaty thus amended. 
The man's only idea of honour was a graduated scale 
of deceit, of which he reserved the lower degrees for 
his friends and the intenser for his enemies. 



Haugwitz reached Paris on the 1st of February, 1806. 
and on the 3rd was received by Talleyrand with 
alarming coldness. On the 4th Napoleon heard the Feb. 4. 
news of Pitt's death and of the accession of Fox to 
the Foreign Office, and at once conceived the idea of 
detaching England from the Coalition, or at any rate 
of paralysing her for a time by negotiations. Fox 
gave him an opening by warning him of a plot for his 
assassination ; and the overture was joyfully welcomed. 
But first it was necessary to come to decisive con- 
clusions with Prussia ; which was duly effected on the 
5 th of February. On that day Talleyrand informed Feb. 5. 
Haugwitz that the treaty of the 15 th of December, not 
i having been ratified, was void; and ten days later he Feb. 15. 
I peremptorily submitted to him a new treaty to the 
, 1 following effect. Prussia was to take over all the 
1 dominions of King George the Third in Germany, and 
\ in return was to yield Neufchatel to France, Cleves to 
a nominee of Napoleon, and Anspach to Bavaria ; and 
» I the several parties were to enter into possession of the 
^ territories thus transferred within five days of the 
> i ratification of the treaty. Prussia was further to close 
1 \ Liibeck and all ports and rivers in the Baltic to 
1 British shipping, to guarantee the French Empire, 
1 including Venetia and Naples, as also the integrity of 
1 Turkey, Bavaria, Wurtemberg, and Baden. 

Rightly thinking that rejection of this treaty would 
e mean war, Haugwitz signed it and sent it on to 
e 1 Berlin. There also Hardenberg perceived that the 
I 1 ; only alternative to ratification was war, and King 
" Frederick William accordingly confirmed the agreement 
1 on the 26th of February. He was well advised ; for Feb. 26. 
e Napoleon, finding that Prussian troops had already 
- loccupied Hanover, took possession of Anspach, Neuf- 
ichatel, and Cleves without waiting to hear of the fate 
M of the new treaty at Berlin. However, this point of 
' e friction between the two powers, though ominous for 
y> (the future, did not disturb the most important condition 
iwhich had been accepted by Frederick William — the 
vol. v y 



1806. closing of the Baltic ports to British trade. This 
stroke against England was followed up by open 
declarations of Napoleon to his Legislative Chamber 
Mar. 2, 5. on the 2nd and 5th of March that Italy, Belgium, and 
Holland were thenceforward essential parts of his 
Empire, subject to his immediate direction, and there- 
fore, as a necessary consequence, barred to British 

The object of the Emperor's policy was now com- 
paratively plain. He had, as he hoped, tied Prussia 
hand and foot by his last treaty. It remained for him 
to come to an agreement either with Russia or with 
England, in full confidence that the secession of either 
power from the Coalition would force the other to come 
to terms. But this was no such easy matter. In the 
first place, the restrictions laid by his late measures upon 
British trade were evidently designed to dragoon rather 
than to persuade England towards a peaceful settlement. 
In the second, Fox was resolute to prosecute no negotia- 
tions except in concert with Russia. In the third, no 
arrangement with England could be final unless it decided 
the fate of Hanover, which country Napoleon had already 
promised to Prussia ; and until the question of Hanover 
was determined, the Emperor could not carry out the 
final reconstitution of Germany which was to take 
shape shortly in the Confederation of the Rhine. 
Lastly, the darling wish of Napoleon's heart was to 
turn the Mediterranean into a French lake ; and this 
of necessity involved the attainment of two preliminary 
ends, namely, predominance of French influence with 
the Ottoman Porte, and, still more important, the 
possession of Sicily. All circumstances combined to 
create a diplomatic situation of extraordinary intricacy, 
which was not simplified by the fact that all parties 
were striving eagerly to second their diplomacy by 
some telling strategic blow. 

The negotiations with England were informally 
opened by Talleyrand with Lord Yarmouth, one of 
the travelling Englishmen who had been detained in 


France by Napoleon's decree at the opening of the 1806. 
war. Yarmouth declined to enter into any discussion 
of the subject except on the preliminary condition that 
Hanover should be restored to its rightful sovereign. 
To this Talleyrand raised no objection ; though the 
article which was most vital to Prussia in the recent 
treaty was thereby very seriously imperilled. The 
effrontery of Talleyrand's action was sufficiently cynical, 
and yet it was not unjustifiable, for Frederick William 
the Little had been as careless of his obligations as 
Napoleon the Great. No sooner, in fact, had the King 
of Prussia signed his treaty with France than he sent the 
Duke of Brunswick to St. Petersburg to report it to the 
Tsar ; with the result that, within six weeks of binding 
himself by an alliance with France against Russia, he 
concluded a secret agreement to ally himself with 
Russia against France. Every precaution was of course 
taken to lull Napoleon into false security while this 
trickery was going forward ; but Frederick William 
had deceived too many parties to escape betrayal by 
some one of them. The British Ministry, indignant 
over the occupation of Hanover by Prussian troops, 
made public the papers concerning Lord Harrowby's 
negotiations at Berlin, which showed that it was not 
from goodwill towards France that Prussia had refused 
to join the Coalition. Napoleon, after reading these, 
published in the Moniteur so furious an attack upon Mar. 21. 
Hardenberg that Frederick William hastened to Mar. 29. 
dismiss that Minister ostensibly, though not actually, 
tlfrom office, in order to allay the Emperor's wrath. 
MBut the British nation was not less angry than 
tH Napoleon over these revelations, particularly when 
)i Prussia added injury to insult by closing her ports to 
i# I British trade. The British Government promptly April 1. 
\ retorted by laying an embargo on all Prussian vessels 
I in British ports, and declaring the Ems and Weser in 
Ufa state of blockade; and these measures were finally Apr. 4-5, 
I clinched on the 21st of April by a Royal message to April 21. 
' jParliament declaring war against Prussia by sea. In 



1806. both Houses members seized the opportunity to state 
as pointedly as possible their opinions of King Frederick 
William and of his policy ; and if that monarch failed 
to awake to a sense of his own contemptibility, it was 
certainly not the fault of the debaters at Westminster. 
The lesson was enforced by the sweeping of the 
Prussian flag off the seas in the course of the next 
few weeks ; and yet this invective and these reprisals 
were directed at one who really clung with desperate 
though dissembled tenacity to England's most valuable 
ally, the Tsar Alexander. Never was there a more 
grotesque political situation. 

Throughout this time Fox was pursuing active 
negotiations with Russia, with the special object of 
thwarting Napoleon's designs in the Mediterranean. 
Throughout the long diplomatic game with Russia the 
French Emperor's great card had been Turkey, which he 
was equally ready to dismember in order to conciliate the 
Tsar, or to champion in order to embarrass him. The 
Eastern question had become more urgent since the 
Peace of Pressburg ; for by the acquisition of Dalmatia 
the French Empire was extended to the marches of 
the Ottoman. The partition of the Sultan's dominions 
having long been a favourite project with Russia, the 
Tsar embraced the opportunity to press it upon 
England ; and Fox, though unprepared to go to such 
extreme lengths as this, nevertheless assured the 
Russian Ambassador that, in case of need, England was 
prepared to occupy Alexandria. The point must be 
borne in mind, for, as shall be seen, this arrangement 
for upholding Russian influence at Constantinople, 
whatever the cost, was actually carried out within 
twelve months. 

At the time, however, Napoleon was checked in 
Eastern Europe by the intrigues of Russia with the 
Montenegrins concerning Cattaro. This place under 
the Treaty of Pressburg should have been delivered 
up to France ; but as no French commissioners 
arrived at the time to take it over, Russian agents 


persuaded the inhabitants that they might yield the 1806. 
place to whom they chose. The Montenegrins at once 
rose in insurrection, compelled the small Austrian 
garrison to surrender the fortress, and transferred it 
to the Russians, who hastened to occupy it in force. 
Napoleon was furious. He suspended the march of 
his army from the German states into France, and de- 
clared his intention of holding Braunau on the Inn 
until Cattaro should be delivered up to him. He had 
hoped to close the eastern coast of the Adriatic 
altogether to British ships ; and it enraged him to 
see its most important port still open to them. 
However, he characteristically indemnified himself by 
seizing Ragusa, neutral territory against which he had 
neither quarrel nor grievance ; which done, he pro- 
ceeded to develop his further plans alike for excluding 
the British from the Mediterranean, and for bringing 
fresh pressure to bear upon Russia by skilful manipula- 
tion of Turkey. On the 9th of June, 1 he ordered June 9. 
Sebastiani to repair to Constantinople, there to assure 
the Sultan of his firm friendship and support against 
all enemies and in particular against Russia, while 
he himself prepared to assemble a force in Dalmatia in 
order to second Sebastiani's mission by threats. 

During this time the Emperor's negotiations with 
England continued, but made little progress, the two 
parties being steadily at variance over two principal 
points. The first of these, as has already been men- 
tioned, was Fox's refusal to treat except in concert 
with Russia ; the second was the cession of Sicily to 
France, which Napoleon persistently demanded, and 
Fox as persistently refused. The Emperor designedly 
protracted the business, hoping always that the capture 
of Sicily by Joseph Bonaparte might give him the 
upper hand in dictating conditions of peace ; but, as 
we shall see, his expectations upon this head were 
doomed to something more than disappointment. 
erS None the less, the dexterity which he showed in the 
1 Corres. de Napoleon, 10,339. 

326 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xhi 

1806. diplomatic struggle was extraordinary. After much 
discussion, he deferred to Fox's determination not 
to treat apart from Russia ; but he did so only to 
seek reconciliation with Russia apart from England. 
The Tsar, as it happened, was willing, though rather in 
the hope of gaining time than of coming to an under- 
standing, to open informal negotiations, for which 
purpose he despatched M. d'Oubril to Paris, ostensibly 
upon some business of exchange of prisoners. Delaying 
d'OubriFs arrival on various pretexts lest he should 
meet and take counsel with Yarmouth, Napoleon made 
a last effort to break down the resolution of the English 
nobleman. Finding persuasion to be useless, Talleyrand 
did not scruple to threaten that France would seize Spain 
and Portugal, shut their ports against the British, and so 
force England to come to terms. The menace failed 
to move Yarmouth ; and d'Oubril was then admitted to 
the capital. The Russian proved to be clay in 
Talleyrand's hands ; and in a few days he was beguiled 

July 20. into signing a treaty whereby, among other matters, 
Russia recognised the cession of Cattaro and Dalmatia 
to France, and of Sicily to Joseph Bonaparte as King of 
Naples. Having obtained this, Napoleon flourished it 
in the face of Yarmouth in the hope that it would scare 
him into accepting the terms of France, which con- 
cession would in its turn compel the Tsar to ratify 
d'OubriFs treaty. He offered also to restore to 
England the sovereignty of Hanover and to confirm 
her in possession of Malta, requiring in return that she 
should acknowledge Joseph as King of the Two Sicilies. 
Since Fox had lately shown signs of relenting upon the 

July 26. article of Sicily, Yarmouth upon the 26th of July agreed 
to cede that island to France ; and Napoleon felt with 
some confidence that he had at last brought both 
Russia and England to the point of signing peace. 

Without delay therefore he proclaimed the dissolution 
of the Holy Roman Empire, and the reconstitution of 
Germany under the Confederation of the Rhine. The 
Confederation consisted of sixteen states : two kingdoms 


— Bavaria and Wttrtemberg ; three grand duchies — 1806. 
Baden, Darmstadt, and Berg ; one ecclesiastical principality 
— Frankfurt ; and ten secular principalities, over which 
presided two princes of Nassau, two of Hohenzollern, 
two of Salm, and one each of Isenburg, Arenberg, 
Lichtenstein, and de Leyen. The whole were under 
Napoleon's protection, and were bound to provide 
him with sixty -three thousand troops when called 
upon. Berg, it may be added, was given to Murat 
under Napoleon's new system of appanages, even as 
Holland had been given in June to his brother Louis, 
and Naples to Joseph. Austria was pressed to accept 
this new model of Germany under threats ; and Prussia 
was tempted to accede to it by the insinuation that 
Hanover should be assured to her and that Frederick 
William might shortly look for an imperial crown. 
Unfortunately, however, Yarmouth in his cups betrayed 
to Lucchesini, the Prussian Ambassador at Paris, that 
Napoleon had already promised Hanover to England ; 
and this fact was promptly reported to Berlin. Never- 
theless the Emperor continued to believe in the prospect 
of a speedy peace with England, for on the 5 th of Aug. 5 
August a formal negotiator from Fox arrived in Paris 
in the person of Lord Lauderdale. But in the mean- 
while the intelligence of d'Oubril's treaty had reached 
London and raised a storm of indignation, which 
was heightened by the news of the Confederation of 
the Rhine, signifying as it did further restrictions upon 
England's commerce. Lauderdale, moreover, had been 
directed after all to insist that Sicily should not be 
abandoned to France ; and indeed had Fox known 
at the moment, as Napoleon did know, what had 
lately passed in Calabria between . the British and 
I French troops, his instructions would no doubt have 
been even firmer upon this point than they were. 
However, Lauderdale was resolute enough as to Sicily, 
and, finding Napoleon equally determined to the 
contrary, on the 9th of August demanded his passports. Aug. 9 
Day after day Napoleon excused himself from granting 


1806. them, hoping that time would work in his favour. 
Francis of Austria, in obedience to his mandate, had 
renounced the title of Emperor of Germany and had 
recognised Joseph as King of the Two Sicilies ; and any 
day might bring the Tsar's ratification of d'Oubril's 
treaty from St. Petersburg. Then England, forsaken 
both by Russia and Austria would, as the Emperor 
reckoned, be thankful to close with his conditions. 

But at this point, to the general surprise, the whole of 
Napoleon's combinations were upset by a sudden revolt 
on the part of Prussia. When the Confederation of the 
Rhine was first reported at Berlin, Frederick William 
received the news with satisfaction, giving out that he 
would himself form a similar confederation of Northern 
Germany, with Prussia, enriched by the possession of 
Hanover, at its head. But presently he realised that 
thereby he would commit himself completely to 
Napoleon's side against Austria and Russia ; and the 
bare thought of this caused the greatest indignation 
among the many Prussians who felt ashamed of their 
Sovereign's ignoble truckling to the Corsican adventurer, s 
A few days later there arrived at Berlin Lucchesini's i 
report that Napoleon had actually offered Hanover to 
England ; and certain suspicious movements of French ] 
troops, added to other unpleasant circumstances, brought 
matters to a crisis. The miserable King completely 1 
lost his head. Public feeling in his capital had passed 1 
hopelessly out of his control ; the moment of trial which i 
he had so long evaded was at hand ; and at this perilous ) 
moment, his trusted friend the Tsar had, as he thought, 
Aug. 9. made his peace with Napoleon. He indited a humble 
letter to Alexander begging for help ; and on the next l 
day he ordered his army to be mobilised, remaining in \ 
despicable and trembling suspense until a courier from 
St. Petersburg should apprise him of his fate. On the 1 
Aug. 26. 26th the answer arrived. Alexander had declined to i 
ratify d'Oubril's treaty, and had disgraced d'Oubril 
himself. The clamour of the Prussian army for war 
was at once redoubled ; and Frederick William saw j 


that the die was cast. The occasion was one in which 1806. 
even a Bourbon of that period might have risen, if only 
for a moment, to the height that is worthy of a patriot, 
if not of a King. But of this Hohenzollern it had been 
written, " Upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt 
thou eat." He wrote frantic letters to all the neighbours 
whom he had swindled and deceived, with abject 
promises to do anything that they wished. He would 
freely grant Bavaria to Austria, nay, if need were, he 
would share Germany with the Emperor Francis ; he 
had never intended to keep Hanover against the wish 
of England, and he would gladly defer the final settle- 
ment of the question until the close of the war upon 
which he was about to enter. No doubt at the moment 
he was sincere, for he was sincerely frightened ; but he 
had sown abroad too many lies to reap any but a 
goodly harvest of contempt. 

Napoleon's answer to all these preparations was an 
order to Berthier to countermand the return of his 
troops to France, to concentrate at Bamberg, and to 
send officers to reconnoitre the country between Bamberg 
and Berlin. 1 He had no intention of refusing Prussia's 
challenge, though the situation for him was serious. 
Here, within less than a year of Ulm and Austerlitz, was 
a new coalition of England, Russia, and Prussia leagued 
against him ; and a defeat would bring all Europe 
upon his back. Above all, there were bad signs in 
Italy, where since July things had gone but ill with 
Joseph Bonaparte and his arms. It is now time to 
look into Italian affairs more closely. 

1 Corres. de Napoleon, 10,730, 10,744, 3rd, 5th Sept. 1806. 


1806. Our last sight of Sicily was in February 1806, when 
by the firmness of Craig, in spite of Mr. Elliot's pro- 
tests, the small British force in the Mediterranean was 
brought into the harbour of Messina after the evacua- 
tion of Naples. Upon the flight of the Neapolitan 
Court to Sicily, the help of these troops was hastily 

Feb. 16. invoked for defence of the island ; and on the 16th of 
February they began their disembarkation at Messina. 
On the same day Craig, worn down with illness and 
anxiety, wrote to ask leave to resign his command, 
since he felt himself no longer equal t^the burden. It 
was in truth no light one. The people of Messina from 
the highest to the lowest welcomed the British as pro- 
tectors ; but the Neapolitan army, which should have 
seconded their efforts, did not exist. By the Queen's 
command, her reigning favourite, M. de Damas, and 
the Hereditary Prince of Naples were left behind with 
some six or seven thousand men to bar the entrance to 
Calabria. These were attacked by a much smaller 
body of French and scattered to the four winds by the 
first shot. About a thousand of them, chiefly mounted 
troops, fled after the Prince to Reggio, from whence 
they were carried by British transports into Sicily. The 

Mar. 24. French followed close upon them ; and on the 24th of 
March French posts and picquets were lining the northern 
shore of the Straits of Messina. But for the presence 
of the British, they would have passed the sea at the 
same time — almost in the same boats, to use Sir John 



Stuart's own phrase, — with the fugitives. So truly were 1806. 
vindicated Craig's foresight and resolution. 1 

This defeat of Damas, for he and not the Hereditary 
Prince was in truth the commanding officer, proved to 
be a blessing in disguise. Though the mishap was prob- 
ably no fault of his, he was of course held responsible 
for it. He was, therefore, dismissed from all his offices 
to make room for the return of old Sir John Acton, 
who, until sacrificed to the wish of Napoleon, had for 
many years been King Ferdinand's principal adviser. 
By Acton's counsel, the feeble old monarch was induced 
to come alone to Messina, nominally to issue orders 
for defence of the country, but really in order that he 
might be withdrawn from the influence of the treacherous 
Queen and of her party. In fact, it was little help that 
the Neapolitan Government could afford, for even the 
most important fortresses were destitute of guns and 
stores ; and the only national garrison consisted of 
some seven thousand worthless troops in and about 
Palermo. Practically, therefore, the whole weight of 
the defence was laid upon the British ; and Craig was 
compelled to summon the Eighty-first regiment from 
Malta to Sicily, which he did very unwillingly, for the 
garrison of Valetta contained, in his opinion, far too 
large a proportion of untrustworthy foreign troops. 
Shortly afterwards, at the beginning of April, Craig April, 
sailed for England, so ill that he was not expected to 
reach it alive, and the command in the Mediterranean 
devolved upon Major-general Sir John Stuart. 

Meanwhile a conviction was growing in the British 
Cabinet that the general theatre of the war was moving 
eastward, and that the British force in the Mediterranean 
might play an important part in it. . The controversy 
over Cattaro had turned Windham's attention to the 
eastern shore of the Adriatic ; and on the 10th of May 
he wrote privately to Craig lamenting the weakness of 
his little army, but authorising him, if he could do so 

1 Craig to Sec. of State, 12th, 16th Feb.; Sir J. Stuart to 
Mr. Cooke, 19th Feb. ; to Sec. of State, 26th May 1806. 

33 2 


1 806. without endangering Sicily, to send troops to occupy 
some of the ports in Dalmatia. As it happened, even 
while Windham was writing, Craig was on his way from 
Plymouth to London, with his health much restored by 
the voyage, and hence with full ability to give informa- 
tion and advice exactly when it was most wanted. 
Windham's design of frittering away his troops in 
Adriatic ports arose from an idea that Napoleon, 
having once established himself in Dalmatia, would 
carry the war into Hungary, the Turkish provinces, 
and ultimately into Russia. Craig gently set his 
foot both on the design and on the reasoning. The 
occupation of Adriatic ports by the British would, he 
said, be useless in itself and would cause extreme 
jealousy in the Russians. As to Napoleon's advancing 
from Dalmatia into Russia, such a notion was highly 
speculative ; for a country without roads, population, 
or supplies was ill-calculated for operations against so 
powerful an enemy as the Russians ; while an advance 
of the French upon Constantinople would certainly 
bring the Austrians down at once upon their flank and 
rear. Napoleon's assembly of troops %as in fact, as we 
have seen, simply a device for strengthening Sebastiani's 
diplomacy with the Porte. Instead therefore of wasting 
men and money on visionary schemes, Craig recom- 
mended rather the despatch of heavy guns and carriages 
for the fortification of Syracuse, Agosta, and Milazzo, 
and of light field-pieces which could be carried on the 
backs of mules for the defence of the interior of 
Sicily. 1 

This advice Windham wisely took to heart. Already 
roused by the negotiations to a sense of the importance 
of Sicily, he had directed Collingwood to detach a 
squadron for its protection, and ordered two more 
battalions, the Seventy -eighth 2 and Eighty-ninth, to 
reinforce the garrison. Moreover, Stuart, upon the spot, 
was energetic in self-help. In April King Ferdinand 

1 Craig to Sec. of State, 8th, 28th May, 7th June ; Windham 
to Craig, 10th May 1806. 2 z/jSth. 


placed under his command, unasked, the line of defence 1806. 
from Milazzo to Cape Passaro, though the Neapolitan 
force which was allotted to this charge amounted 
to fewer than four thousand bad and discouraged 
men. The Militia was, indeed, placed at the General's 
disposal, but, as it consisted merely of a list of names, 
was of little profit. Stuart, therefore, obtained leave 
from the Court to raise a corps of five hundred Sicilian 
Fencibles, drawing British pay and wearing the British 
uniform ; and men were readily found to fill its ranks. 
At the same time a flotilla of small craft was organised 
for the defence of the straits, the men being chiefly 
mariners of Sicily and the Lipari Islands, under the 
direction of a few officers of the British Army. It is 
curious that the crews of these vessels declined to come 
forward until General Stuart permitted them to serve 
under the British flag, for they refused utterly to fight 
under that of King Ferdinand. Thus by the end of May May. 
the British force, increased to seven and eight thousand 
men, lay ensconced with its left fortified at Milazzo 
and with outposts on its right extending towards 
Taormina ; the flotilla scouring the straits, and a few 
vessels of war being anchored at Messina. 1 Altogether 
the situation was greatly improved, and would have 
been promising but for the defects of the military and 
naval commanders. 

Stuart, whom we have already seen in Egypt, was 
not without brains and energy ; but he was vain, flighty, 
and superficial, and therefore incapable either of project- 
ing or executing any sound or far-seeing plan of 
operations. Sidney Smith, the naval commander, 
though brave and restlessly active, was quite as super- 
ficial as Stuart and a great deal vainer. He had 
rendered a very conspicuous service at Acre, and took 
good care that all the world should know it. As a 
partisan leader he had unquestionably great gifts of 
daring, readiness, and resource; but for the higher 
operations of war he was absolutely unfitted, having 

1 Stuart to Sec. of State, 26th May 1806 ; Bunbury, 227-229. 



1806. neither depth nor foresight nor fixity of purpose. He 
could talk of no subject but himself ; he worked chiefly 
if not exclusively for his own hand and his own dis- 
tinction ; he would flaunt himself like a peacock in any 
company ; he had a pestilent love of displaying his 
name and exploits in the newspapers ; and, worst of 
all, he was docile even to servility when concerned with 
crowned heads. In a word, he was utterly unfit for 
supreme command. 

The French, on the other hand, were little more 
fortunate than ourselves. Joseph Bonaparte was timid, 
irresolute, and querulous, and as a general absolutely in- 
capable. Subordinates, indeed, he had many, to the 
extent of two marshals and twenty-seven generals for a 
force of fifty-two thousand men. Massena, the ablest 
of them, joined to the highest military gifts a low 
character and an avarice so insatiable as to swallow up 
all principles of honesty. 1 Reynier, the most prominent 
of the rest, was a fairly good officer, but pompous and 
fatally conceited. The entire army was spoiled by easy 
successes. The regimental officers, though undoubtedly 
brave and probably able, were careless to the last 
degree, negligent of the elementary rules of their pro- 
fession, and content, from a sense of their own and 
their army's superiority, to accept any risk rather than 
be troubled to take the simplest precautions. 2 Their 
first advance into Neapolitan territory had been 
practically unopposed ; and Napoleon had never ceased 
to urge Joseph to press on to Sicily at once, being the 
more anxious to possess it for the hold that it would 
have given him over the British in the current negotia- 
tions. But there was one Neapolitan General who was 
ready to fight and could make his men fight, the 
Prince of Hesse -Philipstadt, who held the sea-girt 
fortress of Gaeta in defiance of the new King of Naples 
and all his men. Gaeta was a terrible thorn in Joseph's 

1 See, for Napoleon's opinion of him, Nap. Corres. 10,311 ; one 
among many such judgments of the man. 

2 See the letters of Paul Louis Courier. 


side. Throughout the month of March Napoleon was 1806. 
urging his brother to besiege it ; and though at last at 
the beginning of April the operations were begun, they 
made no progress until by Napoleon's positive order 
the direction was given in June to Massena. 1 Another 
sore trial to Joseph was a tendency of the Calabrese 
to rise in insurrection, obedient to the agents sent 
among them by the Queen of Naples. His brother 
adjured him to be severe and merciless, not wholly 
without effect ; 2 but these troubles caused him to 
scatter his troops at wide intervals over the country. 
This, as Napoleon early pointed out, was a perilous 
arrangement when his enemy was master of the sea, and 
able at any moment to land a force which could sever 
his communications. 3 

Sidney Smith, to his credit, soon perceived the 
opportunities offered to his squadron by the conforma- 
tion of the Italian peninsula. He had arrived on the 
2 1 st of April at Palermo, from whence he presently April 21. 
sailed to the true centre of operations, Gaeta. The 
fortress was exceedingly strong ; though blockaded by 
the French on the side of the land, it was always open 
from the sea ; and so long as Gaeta held out, Joseph's 
hold upon Neapolitan territory was precarious. Smith 
threw a much-needed supply of ammunition into the 
place, and left a part of his naval force to second a 
sortie of the garrison on the 15th of May, which was May 15. 
attended by complete success. This was good and 
essential service, but it did not suit Smith's vanity to 
mix himself up in any operations in which he had not 
supreme command. He therefore turned aside to 
attack Capri. This island was by no means unimportant, 
since it covered the maritime communications of the 
French to southward ; but on the other hand every 
insular post thus seized signified the locking up not 
only of troops but of ships for its protection ; and this 
was doubly true of Capri because of its vicinity to a 

1 Nap, Corres, 10,296. 2 Ibid. 10,131. 

3 Ibid. 10,085-6. 



1806. strong French force at Naples. Smith, however, was a 1 
man who looked no further than to the issue of the 
next Gazette. He could master Capri with the resources 
of the squadron alone, and would be able to write a 
pompous despatch upon the subject. He attacked the 
May 12. island accordingly on the 12th of May, took it with 
little difficulty, wrote his pompous despatch, and asked 
Stuart to provide his conquest with a garrison. Stuart 
thereupon sent five companies of Corsicans under an 
excellent officer, whose reputation still lies crushed 
under a mountain of slanders, Captain Hudson Lowe 
June. At the beginning of June Smith returned to Messina 
where he requested of Stuart the loan of a few troops 
to make raids and destroy batteries on the Neapolitan 
coast. Stuart rightly refused to squander detachments 
of soldiers upon objects so trivial, but offered to supply 
a large force for operations on a greater scale, and 
suggested a descent upon Calabria. Smith assented 
and sailed away to Palermo to ensure the assistance of 
the Neapolitan Court. 

A descent upon Calabria, that is to say, a mere raid 
with no ulterior object, was, it will4)e observed, the 
highest enterprise which these two vain and jealous men 
could set before themselves. It was a painful contrast 
to the wise and far-seeing designs which Charles Stuart 
had thought out when he sailed to Messina eight years 
before. Moreover, Smith and Stuart, as it happened, 
had founded their plans upon false information. They 
reckoned that Joseph had but thirty thousand instead 
of fifty thousand men in all, and that five thousand of 
these were in lower Calabria under General Reynier, 
scattered and isolated, and therefore easily to be dispersed 
with the help of the Calabrese insurgents. As a matter 
of fact about fifteen thousand men were with Massena 
round Gaeta ; three thousand more were holding Naples ; 
about twelve thousand under St. Cyr were occupied in 
subduing Apulia ; and the troops in Calabria under 
Generals Verdier and Reynier counted ten thousand. 
And these numbers represented effective men, Joseph's 


original army having been reduced by casualties and 1806. 
sickness from fifty to forty thousand. However, an 
offensive movement founded upon false intelligence was 
far better than no offensive movement at all ; and 
Stuart even carried his projects so far as to hope, 
vaguely, that upon his landing the partial insurrection 
of the Calabrese would become general, and that without 
further exertion upon his part Massena would be 
forced to raise the siege of Gaeta. He therefore made 
his preparations quietly and stealthily, embarked the 
necessary stores by degrees and without ostentation, 
sent his transports to various little ports, and kept his 
troops marching from quarter to quarter as though to 
occupy a more extended line of defence ; whereby he 
was able at once to bring the men into condition and to 
conceal his real designs. With all his defects, Stuart 
was by no means without ability of a certain kind. 

Meanwhile Smith sailed, as has been said, to Palermo, 
where his servile instincts and portentous vanity made 
him a ready tool of the Queen. The King, Queen, and 
Royal family, to his intense delight, accepted hospitality 
from him on board his flag-ship, the Pompk ; and he 
obtained from them a decree, dated on the 28th of 
June, investing him with unlimited authority, by land 
as well as by sea, within the Neapolitan dominions. 
By this instrument he became in fact the King's vice- 
gerent for the recovery of his kingdom ; and he was 
fully authorised to take command of any Neapolitan 
troops or subjects without reference to Stuart. It need 
hardly be said that he was careful not to consult the 
General before accepting this office ; and it is superfluous 
to add that this accession to his importance inflated his 
conceit to bursting point. Basking in the moonshine 
of the royal smiles, Smith omitted all further communi- 
cation with Stuart concerning the projected expedition, 
until on the 23rd of June the General lost patience, June 23, 
and announced that, unless the Admiral appeared before 
the 27th, he would sail without him to the Bay of St. 
Euphemia, under the escort of the senior naval officer 




806. at Messina. The time, Stuart added, was propitious ; 
for the French had enraged the Calabrian peasants by 
attempting a forced levy of them for military service, 
and the whole population was ripe for insurrection. 
Smith answered with the air of a man who had more 
important matters to attend to. The Prince of Hesse 
had written that Gaeta was in distress for supplies ; the 
Admiral had therefore sent two Neapolitan men-of-war 
with troops to his assistance, and was himself about to 
fly to the succour of the place. In the circumstances 
he recommended Stuart to cruise along shore, menace 
Policastro, Salerno, and the Bay of Naples, then by a 
" night-run " relieve Gaeta from immediate pressure, 
land in some unexplained and mysterious fashion on 
both sides of the besieging army, " make a clean sweep 
of the besieger," fill up Gaeta with stores, and return 
to profit by the alarm which would be spread by the 
appearance of his armament on the coast. In fact, Smith 
scribbled down every wild idea that occurred to him at 
the moment, in singularly incoherent, ungrammatical, 
and unintelligible English. 1 

Meanwhile, without waiting for thi» precious missive 

25. to arrive, on the night of the 25th Stuart had called 
his transports alongside the quays to take in the guns 
and horses. The men likewise had received their orders 
to march to their appointed places and embark at day- 
break. The duty was performed with perfect order and 
secrecy ; not a soul had an idea of the object of the 
expedition except the General and two of his staff ; 
and altogether it must be said that this part of the 
proceedings was admirably managed. The troops con- 
sisted of seven battalions besides artillery, numbering in 
all about five thousand five hundred of all ranks, 
and were organised into an advanced corps and three 
brigades. 2 Two of these battalions were composed, 

1 Sidney Smith to Stuart, 26th June 1806. Enclosed in Stuart's 

2 Stuart's embarkation-return, forwarded in his despatch of 6th 
July, gives the strength of the force, artillery included, at 4795 


according to the accepted but vicious practice, of jflank- 1806. 
companies. Indeed Craig had so far extended the 
principle of forming the choicest men into special 
corps, as to take the best shots from the battalion- 
companies also and set them apart, with the name of 
" flankers,' ' as sharp-shooters under picked officers. 
The " flankers " of the Thirty-fifth only accompanied 
the expedition, and, added to the flank-companies, must 
have represented the cream of the regiment. The 
flank-companies generally, excepting those of the Eighty- 
first, were, to use Bunbury's expression, hard, biting old 
soldiers ; and the battalion-companies of the Twentieth 
and Twenty-seventh were of the same quality. The 
three remaining battalions were young and had never seen 
a shot fired. Of cavalry Stuart, for want of horse- 
transports, had none, except sixteen of the Twentieth 
Light Dragoons to act as orderlies. The Brigadiers 
were, taken together, a far abler lot of officers than 
were generally to be found in a British force ; Cole, 
Kempt, Oswald, and Ross being all men who made 
their mark later in the Peninsula. Any one of the 
four would have made a better commander than Stuart. 

Sailing on the 26th under the escort of the Apollo June 26. 
frigate and of two more ships of war, the expedition 

rank and file. Adding one-eighth for officers and for the sergeants, 
we get a total of 5400. The returns given by Mr. Oman, Journal 
of the Royal Artillery, March 1908, show a total of 251 officers and 
5280 non-commissioned officers and men. 

Advanced Corps : Colonel Kempt. Light Companies of 20th, 

or L. I. Brigade. l/iyth, 1/3 5th, 1 /58th, i/6ist, i/8ist, and of 
Watteville's regiment. 
"Flankers" of 1/3 5th. 
2 companies of Corsican Rangers. 
I company of Sicilians. 2 four-pounder guns. 

1st Brigade. Cole, \jzjth. (8 companies). Grenadier-Com- 

panies of 20th, 1 /27th, 1 /36th, 1/5 8th, 1/8 1st, 
and Watteville's. 3 four-pounder guns. 

2nd Brigade. Acland. 2/ySth. (10 companies), i/8ist (8 

companies). 3 four-pounder guns. 

ird Brigade. Oswald. 1 /58th, and Watteville's (each 8 com- 

panies). 3 four-pounder guns. 

20th Foot (8 companies) detached to make a diversion. 



i 806. reached the Bay of St. Euphemia on the 30th of June, 
June 30. Colonel Ross with the Twentieth being left to make 
a feint of attacking Reggio and Scilla, with orders 
to follow the main body as soon as the purpose 
of making a diversion should have been fulfilled. 
The transport which carried Kempt and his Light 
Infantry had lagged astern ; wherefore Colonel Oswald 
was appointed to lead the debarkation at dawn 
July 1. of the next day with seven flank-companies and the 
Corsican Rangers. No enemy appeared on the beach ; 
and this first division was safely landed a mile below 
the village of St. Euphemia itself. As the boats 
returned to shore with a second load of men, Oswald 
pushed his party forward in extended order towards the 
village, the ground being covered with trees and scrub. 
Very soon they were met by a sharp fire in their front, 
and the Corsican Rangers were driven in upon their 
supports by a sudden rush of the enemy. Oswald, 
however, speedily restored the fight, and, seeing that 
the second division of troops was now on the beach, 
advanced rapidly, charging his opponents on both flanks 
and routing them completely, with^the loss of ten 
officers and some eighty men killed and taken. They 
proved to be three companies of Poles from the French 
post at Monteleone ; and it was fortunate that their 
commander was so ill-advised as to make his resistance 
after, instead of during, the disembarkation of the 

Following up his success, Oswald pushed forward 
and occupied St. Euphemia ; and by the evening of 

July 1. the 1st of July every man, gun, and animal had been 
disembarked. The engineers were then set to work to 
form lines of defence with sandbags on the beach, 
using an old ruined tower as a centre, so as to cover 
the re-embarkation in case of disaster ; while the 
Advanced Corps moved on to Nicastro, five miles 
inland, where they were j'oined by two hundred armed 
Calabrese, described by one of Stuart's officers as ruffians 

July 2. of the lowest type. On the 2nd there came to Stuart 


a letter from Smith, written off Amantea, on the coast 1806. 
about fifteen miles north of St. Euphemia. Smith was 
I careful to mention that he had been long delayed by 
! the presence of the royal family of Naples on board his 
ship, that he had been further detained by the necessity 
: of arranging for a diversion in Sardinia and for throw- 
l ing stores into Gaeta, and that consequently he had not 
1 been able to leave Palermo until the 29th. He added 
:| that he had received no news of Stuart at Milazzo on 
; the previous night, and could perceive no sign of him 
/ at daylight on the 1st ; that he did not like to go 
5 into St. Euphemia's Bay, in case he should not find the 
1 General there and might not be able to get out again ; 
: and that he was therefore cannonading Amantea as a 
, diversion in his favour. Finally he announced that he 
, had circulated the Royal Decree, which appointed him 
r Commander-in-chief, to the insurgent leaders, and had 
, much pleasure in authorising Stuart himself to give 
t orders to them and to the natives at large. The 
, General, though consumed with inward wrath at the 
s patronising tone of this letter, dissembled his feelings 
1 and replied quietly by begging Smith not to distress the 
f I adjoining coast, as it would only turn friends into 
1 enemies. He intimated further that he had already issued 
r a proclamation to the inhabitants as Commander-in-chief 
of King George's army, and could see no necessity for 
authorisation of his proceeedings by King Ferdinand 
or his deputy. This statement was only too true, 
for Stuart had gone so far as to call upon the in- 
habitants to rise, giving them an indefinite promise of 
assistance from England ; a proceeding which was 
beyond his powers and instructions, and which rightly 
brought upon him the censure of the Government. 1 
However, the immediate point for us is that the two 
commanders were already within measurable distance 
of a quarrel. 

Throughout that day and the next Stuart remained July 3. 
stationary. His landing had been a complete surprise ; 
1 Sec. of State to Stuart, 15th Sept. 1806. 



1806. and, to turn this advantage to full profit, it was obvi- 
ously his policy to advance at once, and to fall 
upon Reynier's troops while they were still dispersed. 
Unfortunately a heavy surf rose on the beach on the 
night of the 1 st of July, which made the landing of pro- 
visions, reserve-ammunition, and baggage-animals a slow, 
difficult, and dangerous matter ; and it is hard to blame 
the General for refusing to take the risk of marching 
until he was sure of his supplies and stores. None the 
less, the delay enabled Reynier to collect a superior 
force and to move at once against his opponent. As 
a matter of fact, the bulk- of the French General's 
troops were immediately under his hand at Reggio 
or within a day's march of it ; and the detachments 
which held his line of communications could all be 
picked up on the way as he marched northward upon 
St. Euphemia. Starting accordingly, with four thousand 
men, upon the first intelligence of Stuart's departure 
from Messina, Reynier gathered up in succession three 
battalions at Palmi, Tropea, and Monteleone, and in 
three days covered the eighty miles from Reggio to 
Maida, where he arrived on the nigkt of the 2nd to 
3rd of July. The force then with him included about 
fifty-seven hundred infantry in nine battalions, rather 
over three hundred sabres of cavalry, and one battery 
of horse artillery, with close upon four hundred gunners 
and engineers, making in all just under six thousand 
four hundred of all ranks. 1 The infantry was organised 

1 The exact figures, for which we have to thank the industry 
and research of Mr. Oman, are : — 

6 French battalions . . . . 4123 

1 Swiss battalion ..... 630 

2 Polish battalions . . . . . 937 

Cavalry . . . . . . 328 

Artillery and Engineers . . . . 373 

Total . . 6391 

Mr. Oman, and apparently Reynier's return, make the total 6440, 
which does not tally with the sum of the details ; but the difference 
is trifling. 


into two brigades under Generals Compere and Digonet, 1806. 
Compere's consisting of the 1st Light Infantry and 
42nd of the Line, each of two battalions, Digonet's of 
the two battalions of the 23rd Light Infantry and the 
three battalions of Poles and Swiss. 

On the morning of the 3rd Stuart received positive July 3. 
intelligence that Reynier was encamped by the river 
Lamato, below San Pietro di Maida; but the reports 
as to his numbers were extremely contradictory, some 
stating them at six thousand, others at three thousand, 
with the commentary that more troops were expected 
from Reggio but were not yet come up. Stuart there- 
fore rode out in the afternoon with his staff, escorted by 
a company of Grenadiers, and reconnoitring the French 
position from a height over against it, decided that it 
must be turned by its left flank ; for its entire front 
was covered by the Lamato, which though fordable was 
an impediment, and its flanks, especially on the right, 
were protected by dense underwood. The country 
being much broken by olive-yards and thick brushwood, 
he reconnoitred also the edges of the forest of St. 
Euphemia, gave special directions as to the outposts, 
and rode back, little suspecting that Reynier, with a 
small escort of cavalry, had been in the wood at the 
same time as himself, observing the British position, 
and had only missed him by a few minutes. That 
night Stuart issued his orders that the troops should 
march at daybreak next morning to attack the French 
position. Four companies of Watteville's with artillery- 
men and three field-guns, altogether about three 
hundred and thirty men, were appointed to hold the 
I entrenchment on the beach ; leaving something under 
I forty-three hundred of all ranks (for Ross's battalion- 
companies of the Twentieth Foot had not yet appeared), 
with three field-guns and eight mountain-guns, to enter 
the line of battle. In sanguine confidence Stuart had 
accepted the lowest estimate of the French army, and 
felt sure of numerical superiority. 

Accordingly at daylight on the 4th of July the July 4. 



1806. British troops moved southward along the shingly 
J ul X 4- beach and the marshy pastures that adjoined it, upon 
the river Lamato, from whence they were to strike inland 
upon the left of Reynier's position. The march was 
made in two parallel columns ; Kempt's brigade leading 
the left or inland column, with Cole's in rear, and 
Acland's the right column, with Oswald's in rear. Two 
light mountain-guns, carried by mules, were attached 
to each brigade ; three slightly heavier field-guns 
followed Acland's column ; and the Apollo with two 
smaller vessels sailed parallel to the army by sea, to 
protect it in case the French should fall upon its flank. 
The march was slow and fatiguing, the marshes being 
in many places deep and the sand on the shore so heavy 
that the field-guns could only with difficulty be brought 
forward. The sun rose intensely hot before the few miles 
along the beach had been traversed, and the men were 
already jaded when they reached the Lamato, where the 
columns wheeled inland to their left and entered the plain 
of Maida. It was now a quarter to nine. The patrols 
of the French cavalry, which so far had followed the 
march of the British, fell back ; andmReynier's army 
was seen filing by its right from its bivouacking ground 
and descending into the upper portion of the same 
plain. Reynier likewise was advancing confidently to 
the attack, though he believed himself to be inferior in 
numbers. Five thousand men, he said, were enough 
to drive six or seven thousand English into the sea ; 
and the great Emperor himself had written less than 
a month before that with nine thousand picked troops 
of Joseph's army he would undertake to beat thirty 
thousand English. 1 Reynier, who had tested the 
quality of the red-coats in Egypt, ought to have known 
better than this ; but he, in common with the whole 
of the French army, was demoralised by easy successes. 

Upon wheeling eastward into the plain the British 
columns had to thread their way through the marshes 
of the lower Lamato and through belts of coppice ; upon 
1 Corres. de Napoleon, 10,325. 


emerging from which Stuart formed them into order of 1806. 
battle and continued the advance in echelon of brigades J ul y 4- 
from his right. Kempt's Light Infantry led the way 
with its right skirting the thickets that bordered the 
Lamato ; next to it came Acland's brigade, and next to 
Acland's that of Cole ; Oswald with his twelve companies 
and three field-guns formed a reserve in rear of the centre. 
Meanwhile the French cavalry and horse - artillery 
manoeuvred in the front, raising much dust, which, 
added to the haze of a burning day, obscured the 
movements of their infantry. Their guns and the British 
field-pieces exchanged shots during the advance ; and 
on reaching the French huts by the Lamato, Kempt 
deployed his light companies and detached the Corsican 
Rangers, supported by the light company of the 
Twentieth, across the thread of water and bed of 
shingle which represented the Lamato, to clear some 
thickets on the further side. The Corsicans had hardly 
entered the wood when a sharp fire and a charge from 
two companies of sharp-shooters, which had been con- 
cealed there by Compere, drove them back in confusion 
upon their supports. The company of the Twentieth 
was hard pressed and its captain was killed, but it 
stood its ground until the " flankers " of the Thirty- 
fifth came to its help and drove the French back in 
disorder. The Corsicans, rallying, followed them up, 
and the British companies doubled back to their places 
on the right of Kempt's brigade. 

And now the French cavalry galloped away towards 
the British left ; the dust subsided ; the French infantry 
was seen advancing rapidly to the attack ; and the 
British officers could not fail to notice that it was 
considerably superior in numbers, to their own. 
Reynier's plan, as he reported after the action, was to 
make " a vigorous charge which should break up a 
section of the enemy's force, so that the remainder 
should not be able to embark, and would be obliged to 
surrender, especially the part which had been turning 
the French left." He formed his troops therefore into 



1806. three columns. On the left was Compere's brigade, 
J ul y 4- namely the 1st Light Infantry and the 42nd of the 
Line, veteran regiments of deserved reputation and 
counting over twenty-eight hundred bayonets. Next 
to Compere's, and intended either to support it 
or to form the centre of the line, was Peyri's brigade 
of one Swiss and two Polish battalions, altogether 
fifteen hundred bayonets. Finally on the right was 
Digonet's brigade, which included twelve hundred and 
fifty bayonets of the 23rd Light, besides the cavalry 
and guns. Since the French camp faced to north, and 
Reynier's line of battle was to face westward, the French 
army had to begin by changing front to the left. 
Hence it necessarily followed that Compere's brigade, 
which formed the left of Reynier's line, was the first to 
come into position, Peyri's and Digonet's having to 
make a wider circuit to take up their new alignment. 
The consequence was that Reynier's advance, like that 
of Stuart, was made in echelon of brigades, but from 
the left instead of from the right ; both armies refusing, 
as was natural, the flank which was unsupported. 
From this again it followed that the 4ieads of the two 
echelons, namely the brigades of Compere and Kempt, 
were bound to be the first that should come into collision. 

Kempt, true to British methods, deployed his two 
battalions into line, two deep. Every man of his seven 
hundred soldiers 1 was a good marksman ; and he 
trusted to missile-tactics. A quarter of a mile to his 
left rear was Acland's brigade, thirteen hundred strong. 
Opposed to him was the brigade of Compere who, 
either from design or from eagerness to close, was 
advancing in echelon of regiments, the 1st Light lead- 
ing and the 42nd of the Line, one thousand strong, to 
its right rear. The two battalions of the 1st Light were 
therefore those with which Kempt had to deal. They 

1 The Corsican Rangers had been left in the wood on the other 
side of the river. The British of Kempt's brigade numbered 661 
non-commissioned officers and men, say 630 firelocks ; and the 
Sicilian company, say 100. 


came on, each of them eight hundred bayonets strong, 1806. 
in columns of companies three ranks deep, that is to say, J ul y 4- 
with a front of not more than fifty men apiece, and with 
no great interval between them ; for Compere, faithful 
to the Revolutionary traditions which had never been 
abandoned by Napoleon, relied mainly upon shock-tactics. 
He led his men rapidly, and they followed him eagerly ; 
for Frenchmen love fighting, and the experience of 
these old soldiers was that, after one or two not very 
destructive volleys at long range, their opponents would 
turn their backs. At a range of one hundred and fifteen 
yards Kempt poured in his first volley with telling 
effect. The French returned the fire, though feebly, 
owing to the narrowness of their front, but continued 
their advance gallantly enough, when at eighty yards' 
range the British delivered their second volley. 
Compere, doubtless seeing his men waver, hurried 
them on, calling to them to fire no more but to charge 
with the bayonet. Kempt on the other hand halted, 
with the words " Steady, Light Infantry. Wait for the 
word. Let them come close.' ' Biding his time until the 
French were within thirty yards, Kempt gave the word 
to fire, and a third volley sent almost every Frenchman 
flying back. Compere's right-hand battalion, which 
being overlapped on both flanks may be presumed to 
have suffered the more heavily, broke and fled without 
attempting to close. Of his left-hand battalion, whose 
left flank was level with the British right, a few brave 
men did come up to the bayonets of the Twentieth and 
Thirty-fifth, led by their gallant Brigadier. He, though 
struck by two bullets, rode actually into the British 
ranks, gesticulating wildly with his unwounded arm and 
swearing with the strength of seven, devils. It was a 
fruitless effort. Kempt after the third volley gave the 
word to charge, and the French were swept away with 
fearful slaughter ; for Englishmen were not afraid of 
killing a foe in those days. The fugitives fled headlong 
up the hill towards their camp with the red-coats dashing 
savagely after them. Through the camp and along the 



1806. hill-side for more than a mile the pursuit continued, 
July 4. unt ii at i ast) at village of Maida, Kempt succeeded 
in halting and rallying his men. By that time the 1st 
Light had lost nearly nine hundred men in killed, 
wounded, and prisoners, whereas Kempt had hardly lost 
fifty. None the less, for the future purpose of the 
battle, Kempt's brigade was useless and out of action. 

Immediately upon the rout of the 1st Light, the 
French 42nd of the Line came into action with 
Acland's brigade. Acland opened fire at three hundred 
yards ; and the 42nd, dismayed by the flight of their 
comrades and seeing themselves to be outnumbered, 
would endure only two volleys before they too turned 
and ran. But even so the fire of the British had been 
terribly severe, and more than a third of the French 
were lying on the field. The fugitives fled straight to 
their rear along the Catanzaro road ; and Acland 
following them came upon the three foreign battalions 
of Peyri's brigade. The two Polish corps, which were 
opposed to the Eighty-first, behaved very badly and 
gave way directly. The Swiss on the other hand almost 
succeeded in turning the whole tide of tke action. They 
wore a scarlet uniform ; and it is said that the Seventy- 
eighth, mistaking them for Watteville's Swiss, allowed 
them to approach unharmed within very close range 
and received from them a very sharp volley. Certain 
it is that for a few minutes there was some con- 
fusion in both battalions of Acland's brigade, that 
the two commanding officers misapprehended orders 
and lost their heads, and that the Seventy-eighth actually 
began to retreat. The retrograde movement was 
fortunately checked in the nick of time by the Major, 
David Stewart ; 1 the Seventy-eighth recovered itself at 

1 My authority for this incident is a very modest memorandum 
of David Stewart's service, wherein he declines to give full details 
from respect for the officers concerned, but adds that General Stuart 
only forbore to notice the occurrence in his despatch on Stewart's 
own urgent request. I have to thank Lady Tullibardine for most 
kindly placing a copy of this document at my disposal. The truth 
of the story is confirmed by Bunbury, p. 252. 


once ; and after a short struggle the Swiss retired in 1806. 
good order towards their right, where they rallied and J ul y 4- 
reformed upon Digonet's brigade. Acland pressed 
forward in his pursuit, but the French cavalry and 
horse -artillery came forward to check him ; and 
Acland ordered his two battalions to form squares. 
Being young troops, flushed by their first action and 
their first success, they were already in some disorder ; 
and as they were further crowded together in an attempt 
to execute this complicated manceuvre, they suffered 
some loss from the French guns. However, they had 
done their part well ; and it is now time to turn to the 
left of the British line. 

Cole's brigade had been early thrown back beyond 
its proper distance in the echelon by the first menace 
of the French cavalry and guns, owing to which it had 
been halted until its own artillery could be brought 
! forward. Hence it did not come into action until 
some twenty minutes later than Acland. Its strength 
was about thirteen hundred men, and Oswald's reserve 
was at hand to support it. Opposed to it were the two 
I battalions of the 23 rd Light of nearly equal numbers, 
supported by the rallied Swiss of Peyri's brigade, two 
squadrons of cavalry, and four guns. Seeing how ill 
the battle was going for the French, Reynier used this 
force as a rear-guard, which was very skilfully handled 
by General Digonet. Placing the 23rd on the one flank 
; I and the Swiss on the other flank of his guns, this officer 
i stood on the defensive on slightly rising ground, 
f threatening every movement of Cole's with a charge 
5 of cavalry, and detaching his light companies to harass 
, the British battalions from the brushwood on Cole's left 
t flank. Cole threw back the left of the Twenty-seventh 
to repel this attack ; but he could do no more than 
I, hold his own, for ammunition was running short, and 
rt the men were growing exhausted under the intense heat 
' s of the sun. Oswald presently brought up his reserve 
J on Cole's right, which improved matters ; and just at 
1 the critical moment a staff-officer galloped up to report 



1806. that Ross had landed with the Twentieth Foot and was 
J ul Y 4- hurrying forward in double quick time. Sidney Smith 
had arrived in St. Euphemia that morning, and seeing 
Ross's transports coming in, had happily advised that 
the troops should be landed at once at the mouth of the 
Lamato. During the disembarkation Ross heard the 
firing begin, and r the progress of the boats being slow 
owing to a heavy surf, he did not wait for the last loads 
but ran with all speed to the scene of action. He was met 
by Bunbury, who briefly explained the state of affairs ; 
when, promptly grasping the situation, Ross plunged 
into the brushwood on Cole's left, drove out the sharp- 
shooters, poured a volley into the French squadrons, 
which sent them into the rear in confusion, and then 
wheeling to the right opened a shattering fire upon the 
flank of Digonet's battalions. This decided the action. 
After a feeble attempt to hold his ground Reynier drew 
off his troops towards the 42nd, which had rallied some 
distance in rear, and, skilfully covering his retreat by 
his cavalry and sharp-shooters, retired rapidly towards 
Catanzaro. Had the British possessed but two or three 
squadrons of cavalry, hardly a man o^Reynier's army 
could have escaped. 

The action, as has been seen, was fought in three 
sections by each of the three British brigades in- 
dependently, from which it might be surmised that 
the Commander-in-chief had been killed. But it was 2 
not so. Stuart was cantering about all over the field, 
heedless of personal danger, enjoying himself keenly as | 11 
a spectator, but giving not a thought to the direction n 
of the battle. From the moment when Kempt's I t 
brigade had routed that of Compere, Stuart's head was 1 
completely turned by the brilliancy of present success Qi 
and visions of a glorious future. His staff, unable pr 
to obtain any orders from him, gave information as ii 
to what was passing to the Brigadiers, who carried on i 
the action practically by themselves. When, however, all 
was over, Stuart was obliged to say whether there should | ic 
or should not be a pursuit, and he decided that there 


should not. The men were indeed jaded by the march 1806. 
and the fight and choking with thirst ; water was only J ul y 4- 
to be found in the Lamato ; and there was no means of 
bringing forward supplies. But the action after all 
had lasted little more than two hours ; it had been 
brilliantly successful, and victory will carry troops far. 
Moreover, Ross's regiment was fresh and Kempt's 
brigade was well forward — indeed was actually marching 
for some time parallel with the retreating French — 
though in the absence of orders from Stuart, Kempt 
dared not take the initiative. After a while therefore 
he halted, only detaching the Light Company of the 
Twentieth under Captain Colborne — the future Lord 
Seaton — to keep touch with the enemy. Kempt's 
brigade did not return to camp till next morning ; 
and Colborne, as was to be expected from so 
good an officer, hung closely to Reynier's skirts 
as far as Borgia, within ten miles of Catanzaro, 
when finding himself unsupported he was fain to 

Meanwhile Stuart ordered the rest of his army back 
to the beach for repose ; and each of the brigades 
received permission in turn to bathe in the sea. 
Cole's brigade was enjoying this privilege when a 
staff- officer, deluded by the dust raised by some 
frightened buffaloes, came galloping down, crying aloud 
that the French cavalry was approaching. Then followed 
a scene which has no parallel in the history of the 
army. The Grenadiers and Twenty- seventh rushed 
out of the water, seized their belts and muskets and 
fell into line with ordered arms, ready to fight and give 
a good account of themselves without a shred of 
clothing. 1 The staff- officer, who . has fortunately 
preserved the scene for us, treats only of its ludicrous 
aspect ; but to us it gives also some insight into the 
discipline and spirit of the old soldiers of the past. 
It is only unfortunate that Colonel Bunbury did not set 
down the judgment passed by these men, in their own 
1 Bunbury, pp. 249-50. 



1806. language, upon the hapless but imbecile officer who 
July 4. g ave tn e f a i se a l a rm. 

Stuart for his part was subjected to a trial which 
must have been inexpressibly galling to him. Still 
intoxicated by his success and troubled only by nervous 
anxiety to give proper expression to it in his despatch, he 
found on his return to the shore that the Pompee was 
at anchor in the bay with Sir Sidney Smith on board. 
On that very morning a letter had reached the General 
from that illustrious sailor, explaining at great length 
the reasons why he, as King Ferdinand's vicegerent, 
had thought right to delegate certain authorities to his 
military colleague, and adding that, since Stuart was 
content with the naval assistance already at his dis- 
posal, he should go with his flag-ship to northward. 
Yet there the Admiral was, and, worse than this, he 
accounted for his presence by saying that he had fully 
expected the army to be beaten, and had resolved to 
run the Apollo ashore with her broadside to the beach 
to cover the flight of the red-coats. However, he was 
full of compliments and hospitality, invited Stuart and 
his staff on board the flag-ship, tallied a great deal 
about himself and the siege of Acre, instructed Stuart 
in the art of folding a turban on a lady's head, and 
incidentally asked him how he could best serve him. 
" By going northward," said Stuart, with such emphasis 
as can be guessed. " Everything to southward is now 
July 5- in the power of the army." Next morning came news | 
that Reynier was endeavouring to rally his army at : : 
Catanzaro ; and at daybreak the General returned t 
ashore, after receiving once again Sidney Smith's assurance 
that he would sail to the north, or in plain words to 

There was in fact a great opportunity open to these 
two commanders. By hastening at once to Gaeta with 
a thousand troops and the news of the victory, Sidney 
Smith could have put new life into the garrison ; and 05 
if at the same time Stuart, after leaving a small force to r 
secure Lower Calabria, had carried the rest by sea to p 


threaten Naples, the French must not only have raised 1806. 
the siege but evacuated both the Calabrias in order to J ul y 4- 
save the capital. The insurrection might then have 
gained formidable headway ; the French hold upon the 
Neapolitan dominions would have become extremely 
precarious, and Italian affairs might have marred 
Napoleon's plans on the eve of his quarrel with Prussia. 
But General and Admiral alike were impostors, and the 
favourable moment was allowed to pass. For forty- 
eight hours the army was left " kicking its heels and 
eating grapes," to borrow Colonel Bunbury's picturesque 
phrase, while the General laboured in travail with his 
despatch. So absorbed was he in the task of adorning his 
exploits with an appropriate setting, that he could spare 
no attention for the movements of the army — so eaten 
up with self-esteem that he could find no time for duty. 

In truth the action of Maida was an extremely 
brilliant and creditable little affair. Five thousand two 
hundred British troops had met six thousand four 
hundred French in the open field, with no advantage of 
circumstances or position, and had inflicted upon them 
so crushing a defeat as to amount very nearly to a 
disaster. Reynier's losses, considering that the British 
had not a mounted man in the field, were almost 
incredibly severe, and Stuart's as incredibly small. Of 
the British there fell in all three hundred and twenty- 
seven, of whom one officer and forty-four men were 
killed, eleven officers and two hundred and seventy-one 
men wounded. The heaviest casualties fell upon the 
Seventy-eighth and Eighty-first, though in each of these 
two battalions they were fewer than one hundred. On 
the French side Reynier acknowledged a loss of thirteen 
hundred killed, wounded, and prisoners ; but the true 
figure was probably over two thousand. The number 
of the killed was abnormally great. According to 
Stuart's despatch, over seven hundred bodies were buried 
on the field ; according to his Quartermaster-general, 
who is more probably correct, over five hundred. The 
prisoners, wounded and unwounded, exceeded a 
vol. v 2 A 



i 806. thousand, and the wounded who were not captured 

cannot have fallen far short of another thousand. The i 
British were lucky in the contempt with which their 

opponents treated them, and still more lucky in the \ 

timely arrival of Ross and his regiment on the field ; [ 

but nothing can detract from the credit of their victory, L 

The conduct of all the men was good, and that of the 1 
old soldiers admirable. 

The action has long been celebrated because, accord- 
ing to Stuart's despatch, the British and French crossed b 
bayonets. The fact is at best doubtful ; and Maida U 
has of late received more proper and sensible com- a: 
memoration as an early instance of the triumph of % 
the British line over the French column. The fight \{ 
presents all the familiar features of the later battles in | ( 
the Peninsula — a reckless dashing of a deep but narrow l: 
mass of bayonets against a shallow but broad front of a 
muskets, with the inevitable result that the narrow L 
front could not compete with the broad in development 
of fire, and that the columns were shattered to pieces 
in front and flank by bullets before the bayonets could 
come into play. The consequence which seems in- Ij 
variably to have followed was, psychologically, most c: * 
curious. The head of the column, though staggering 
and wavering, still strove gallantly to advance, but the K 
tail turned and ran ; and the leading files finding 
themselves abandoned, broke at once before the charge 
of the victorious line. Reynier, in reporting the 
results of the action, most unjustly laid upon his 
troops all the blame which was by right his own ; L 
and King Joseph's staff very foolishly supported (• 
him. "The 1st Light should remember," wrote Cesar ^ 
Berthier to Reynier, " that it has never feared the E 
English, and hitherto has always made them fly. His 
Majesty knows not to what to attribute their moment 
of panic. He hopes that the regiment has by this time 
recovered." 1 But in fact the gallant and unfortunate 0 . 

1 Intercepted letter of 8th July in Gen. Fox to Sec. of State, & 
2nd Aug. 1806. Ca; 


corps had been sacrificed by the blundering of its 1806. 

The true issue of the matter is, however, obscured 
by narrowing it down to a mere contrast of tactical 
formations, of line against column. It is really a 
contrast of tactical principles, of missile-action against 
shock-action. All nations, through an old-fashioned 
prejudice, value themselves on their prowess with the 
bayonet, all having had experience of demoralised or 
imperfectly trained enemies who would not await their 
advance to close quarters. But from the days of the 
archers onward the British have won their victories by 
cool and steady marksmanship ; and the whole secret 
of Maida, as of Wellington's triumphs in the Peninsula, 
lies in the fact that the British troops, by good training 
and strict discipline, could disable at a range of fifty or 
a hundred yards an infantry which, however imposing 
in appearance, was powerless for deadly mischief at a 
greater range than thirty-six inches. 

To return now to the course of the operations, 
Stuart, after a prolonged struggle of forty-eight hours 
with his despatches, wrote to Sidney Smith on the 6th July 6. 
of July that he should detach a brigade under Colonel 
Oswald to Monteleone, with orders to capture all the 
posts upon the west coast on his way southward, and 
that he himself should lead his main body over the 
mountains to Catanzaro. Smith answered on the same 
day that he should use every effort to give the General 
naval force on the Adriatic, adding in his usual 
inflated style, " I hope to electrify the people of Terra 
di Lavoro by our pressure on the enemy at Gaeta." 
Satisfied with this assurance, Stuart, after a most un- 
justifiable delay of three days, pushed Oswald's Light 
Brigade forward on the evening of the 7th to July 7 
Monteleone. The garrison of three hundred and 
seventy of all ranks at once surrendered ; but Stuart, 
on entering the place, learned to his amazement that 
Sidney Smith was still on the south coast, renewing the 
capitulations of all the places that had already yielded 



1806. to the army on shore, and that he had even despatched 
J ul y 7- a naval officer, in advance of Oswald, to summon 
Monteleone in his own name. Thus the Admiral, in 
the face of his promise, had left Gaeta to its fate, and 
was following the track of the General in order to 
steal his poor laurels from him. Stuart's vanity was 
unfortunately wounded more deeply than his sense of 
military honour. Without a thought for Gaeta, he 
deliberately halted for four days at Monteleone to 
write a tale of complaints to Mr. Elliot. 1 This letter 
ran to the efFect that he could not continue to expose 
the lives and reputation of his victorious troops for the 
re-establishment of the Kingdom of Naples, so long as 
King Ferdinand's decree, instead of inculcating confidence 
in the army, directed public obedience and attention to 
" another channel, 1 ' or in other words to Sir Sidney 
Smith. He had, he continued, advanced as far as 
Borgia in pursuit of Reynier, when he perceived that 
the said decree paralysed his efforts to direct the country. 
He therefore trusted to Elliot "to impress upon the 
Court of Naples the magnitude of his army's services 
and their great importance to the future security of the 
Kingdom of Naples." 2 

Practically therefore this man of small mind re-? 
nounced all the few profits still to be gathered from his 
victory owing to sheer sulkiness over the proceedings of 
his still smaller colleague. In fact he confessed to Mr. 
Elliot a few days later that it was Sidney Smith's 
assumption of supreme command, and the medley of 
control resulting from it, that had arrested his pursuit 
of Reynier. 3 But it was really true that Sidney Smith 

1 Bunbury says that he employed these days in polishing still 
further his despatch concerning Maida, which in fact was not sent 
to England (though a vessel was ready to take it) until a fortnight 
after the action. No doubt this is partly true ; but Bunbury either 
did not know, or loyally concealed, the bitterness of Stuart's feeling 
against Smith. 

2 Stuart to Elliot, 10th July 1806; enclosed in his general 

3 Same to same, 19th July 1806. 



had enormously increased Stuart's difficulties. That 1806. 
volatile officer, completely under the influence of the 
infamous Queen of Naples, had been flitting about the 
coast, scattering arms and proclamations among the 
refuse of the population and inciting them to insur- 
rection. These people, generically known as the 
Masse, quickly formed themselves into bands under 
leaders termed the Capitani delle Masse, and laid 
themselves out for a carnival of brigandage. No con- 
fidence could be reposed in these ruffians, whom Smith, 
in his shallow ignorance, had chosen to dignify as patriots. 
The Capitani would forsake their commands at the 
mere rumour of the approach of the French, and were 
more likely to join than to oppose them if the French 
were victorious ; and meanwhile they turned their arms 
against their wealthier compatriots and confounded the 
whole of Calabria with cruelty, murder, and rapine. 1 
Stuart restored order so far as his strength permitted ; 
but before the 12th he learned, while still at Monte- July 1 
leone, that the insurrection had produced at least 
one weighty result. The insurgents had hoisted the 
royal standard at Cosenza ; General Verdier, his 
ammunition being exhausted, had been compelled to 
retreat with some loss by forced marches from thence 
northward ; 2 and, more important still, Reynier's direct 
retreat was now cut off, and the only line left open to 
him was the road that followed the windings of the 
eastern coast. Yet Stuart in reporting these facts to 
England could find nothing to present with them but a 
request that a medal might be granted to his army for 
Maida. 3 He appears never to have thought of the 
effect that Verdier's retreat would produce on Reynier, 
who still lingered at Catanzaro, trying to restore order 
and spirit in his demoralised army. It seems never to 
have occurred to him that he might himself have 

1 Gen. Fox to Sec. of State, 31st Aug. 1806. 

2 Intercepted letter from Verdier to Reynier, 15th July, in Fox 
to Sec. of State, 2nd Aug. 1806. 

3 Stuart to Sec. of State, 12th July 1806. 

358 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1806. marched to Cosenza and effected by design what had 
now come about by happy chance. 

Within the paltry sphere of operations to which he 
had limited himself, all was going as well as possible. 
His faithful naval helper, Captain Fellowes of the 
Apollo^ was moving steadily down the coast and 
gathering in the isolated French posts one after another, 
his first capture being that of one hundred prisoners 
July 7. at Tropea on the 7th. Brigadier Brodrick, again, 
who had been left in command at Sicily, grasping at 
once the true significance of the victory at Maida, had 
collected twelve hundred British and Neapolitans, and 
with the co-operation of Captain Hoste of the Amphion, 
had crossed the straits to Reggio. Surrounding the 
place before the garrison could escape, he received its 
surrender, together with that of some six hundred 
prisoners, after two days' investment. The news of 
July 14. this success reached Stuart on the 14th at Palmi, to 
which he had at last moved after his long delay at 
Monteleone. But additional news accompanied it, 
which only made the General the more anxious to 
return to Sicily. It now appeared tfcat Sidney Smith, 
under pretext of sailing to Gaeta, had but disguised 
another determined effort to wrest from the General 
the credit of the military successes. Instead of sailing 
to Gaeta he had hurried round to Scilla, had landed his 
marines, and was actually besieging the fortress accord- 
ing to his own peculiar military ideas. Meanwhile he 
had sent to Sicily pompous accounts of the naval 
operations and of his share in the success of Maida, 
which were duly published in the Messina Gazette. 
He claimed to have taken four hundred prisoners at 
Amantea, a piece of news which somehow never reached 
the army while the Pompee lay in the Bay of St. 
Euphemia. He averred that Stuart had landed under 
the fire of the Apollo^ which was not only untrue but 
absurd, for there was nothing for the Apollo to fire at. 
He informed the Queen of Naples, in language of almost 
incredible bombast and absurdity, that the success of the 



recent operations was due to the vesting of the superior 1806. 
direction in himself. 1 Nothing could be more false ; 
and, as a matter of fact, the King of Naples, in reply to 
Elliot's remonstrances, incontinently cancelled the decree 
under which the Admiral had acted, declaring that it 
had been turned to a use for which it had never been 
intended. But this was not the worst of Sidney Smith's 
shortcomings. On the 19th of July he wrote again July 19. 
to the Queen of Naples that the reaction caused by 
recent measures had made itself felt at Gaeta, and that 
on the 9th three thousand French troops had been 
seen by a British naval officer marching from the 
trenches upon Naples. But, in truth, on the 18th, July 18. 
even before he had written the words, Gaeta had 

This disaster, for it was nothing less, was due 
wholly to Sidney Smith's egoism ; and by a righteous 
nemesis, it occurred in circumstances which deprived 
him of an extraordinary opportunity of gaining dis- 
tinction. Smith's leading motives in avoiding Gaeta had 
been two, jealousy of the Prince of Hesse-Philipstadt, 
to whom would justly have been awarded the chief 
credit for a successful defence ; and jealousy of Stuart, 
over whom he claimed to hold command. It so 

1 I give here the text of the letter, slightly abridged. Impostors 
of Sidney Smith's type are always among us ; and it is well that a 
brand should be set upon any one of them who is detected. " The 
advantage of the concentration of authority is already manifest. 
He who can speak as supreme commander can accomplish coups de 
maUre. It is this unity of plan and action which gives Bonaparte his 
success. Now this unity of power is vested in me. Let it remain 
in me, and I will dare to do more than he will dare to imagine. 
If Italy can dispute no longer the empire of the world with France, 
she can at least preserve her independence. Stuart has done what 
he promised me. He beat Reynier in a masterly fashion. One 
more battle, and both Calabrias are ours. We have already Further 
Calabria except a few ports which I am now engaged in reducing." 
Yet upon Stuart's complaint of Smith's delegation of authority to 
him, the Admiral had written (2nd July) that the powers given to 
him by the Court of Naples were much greater than he had thought, 
and that he considered it his duty to the General to remove any 
possible difficulty. 



1806. happened that the gallant old Prince was wounded; 
and, released from the pressure of his strong hand, 
the Neapolitan officers of the garrison at once be- 

ly 14. thought them of surrender. On the 14th news 
reached Capri that affairs in Gaeta were going amiss, 
whereupon Captain Rowley of the Royal Navy resolved 
to proceed there at once, taking with him the naval 
force at his command and an officer of engineers, lent to 
him by the military commandant. Hudson Lowe was, 
indeed, eager to go himself ; and was only restrained 
by the fact that Rowley's withdrawal left Capri exposed 
to the attack of a superior naval force at Naples. The 
British officers inspected the works of Gaeta and 
finding them still tenable ordered repairs to be made, 
taking the Governor with them to explain what should 
be done. To their surprise, the Governor had never 
even seen the batteries of the fortress, much less 
Massena's lines ; but for all that he refused to deliver 
up his command to a British officer. The utmost 
that could be extorted from him was, that he would 
consult his officers before thinking of surrender, and 
that at worst he would ask for an armistice of three 
days. The British captains went back to the ships, but, 
hearing that a flag of truce had been sent to Massena, 
relanded to find that the Neapolitan chiefs were drawing 
up a capitulation. Breaking in upon them, they read 
the articles, which seemed to be honourable. The 
Neapolitans also pledged themselves to fight to the 
death if their terms were refused, and to take no final 
step without communication with their allies. Satisfied 
by these assurances, the British officers retired for the 
night. A few hours later they heard that the best of 
the Neapolitans had deserted to the enemy, and that 

ly 18. the rest had signed a disgraceful surrender. Treachery, 
of course, underlay the whole transaction ; but if Sidney 
Smith had arrived there with, or even without, a 
thousand men on the day after Maida, the whole 
garrison would have been heartened ; and, after the 
disablement of the Prince of Hesse, Smith would 


certainly have secured command and could have added 1806. 
a second really fine and useful service to his defence of 

As things fell out, he not only missed the glory of 
. Gaeta, but was ignominiously repulsed from Scilla, which 
by a delightful irony became the trophy of the army, 
i The French commandant made a most gallant defence, 
' and the walls of the fortress were so thick that the 
1 British could make no impression upon them until they 
i brought up their siege-artillery. With heavy guns, how- 
lj ever, Colonel Oswald speedily reduced it to surrender, July 24 
\ and made its garrison of nearly three hundred men 
1 prisoners of war. Sidney Smith had already disappeared, 
i on the 1 8 th, bound at last for Gaeta ; but meeting the 
I news of the surrender on the way, he turned aside to 
f carry on a little warfare of his own in the Gulf of 
s Policastro. Deprived of the command-in-chief, of 
r which he had made such parade, and threatened with 
t the prospect that the name of Gaeta might be thrown 
in his teeth, he doubtless thought it prudent to hide 
himself away. Stuart, on the other hand, embarked 
his troops at Reggio, leaving garrisons there and at 
Scilla, and returned to Sicily. He expressed some 
compunction at leaving the Masse, who had now 
committed themselves deeply against France ; but the 
insurrection was the work of Sidney Smith, for which, 
in consequence, he did not feel responsible. He 
hoped nevertheless to second and encourage them by 
demonstrations upon the coast, for which purpose he 
sent General Acland with the Fifty - eighth and 
Eighty -first to cruise off Salerno and the Bay of 
Naples. As regards Reynier, Stuart was content to 
send one battalion, the Seventy -eighth, by sea to 
Catanzaro with Captain Hoste of the Amphion. 
:j Surrounded as the French General was on all sides by 
1 insurgents, Stuart thought that he would find it difficult 

to escape so long as Gaeta held out, for on the 27 th of July 27 
July he had not yet heard of the fall of that fortress. 
There were, however, unpleasant reports from Palermo 



1806. that Massena was marching with ten thousand men to 
the rescue of his colleague, and therefore, in Stuart's 
opinion, it was necessary to act with caution. 1 No one 
would dream from his despatches that he considered 
either Gaeta or Reynier's army to be any concern of 
his ; he had won a brilliant action in the open field, and 
that sufficed him. 

Fortunately Hoste and Colonel Macleod of the 
Seventy-eighth were men of a different stamp. Sailing 
from Reggio on the evening of the 25th, they caught 

July 26. sight of part of the French army next morning in full 
retreat upon Cotrone. The road ran nearly parallel to 
the beach and within gunshot of the sea, being bounded 
to the landward by a chain of mountains, on which 
Macleod had entreated the Masse to assemble in order 
to harass the enemy's flank. Macleod at once sailed 
ahead of the French column, and made a demonstration 
of landing. The column halted, and changed direction 
towards the mountains, whereupon Hoste opened fire 
on its centre and rear and dispersed it ; and had the 
insurgents but been present to do their part, they might 
have inflicted very heavy loss. But nof a man appeared. 
The leaders upon whom Sidney Smith had lavished arms 
and flattery, disbanded their followers upon the mere 
rumour of a French advance ; and a great opportunity 
was thus lost. Hoste's cannonade killed and wounded 
fifty or sixty men ; and the fleet then sailed to Cotrone 
where it anchored, after exchanging a few shots with 

July 27. the citadel late in the evening. On the following 
morning Hoste allowed the French to take up a position 
within range of his guns, when he stood in and again 
drove them to the mountains. Several deserters came to 
the British that evening, who reported their comrades to 
be much harassed and discontented and their leaders 
much perplexed ; but after a day's halt the column 

July 28. resumed its retreat northward on the 28th, wreaking 
savage vengeance on the villages that lay in its path. 
Unable to ascertain by what route they were moving, 
1 Stuart to Sec. of State, 26th July 1806. 


Macleod urged the peasants to pursue and harry them ; 1 
and after receiving the capitulation of Cotrone, returned 
to Messina. He brought with him five hundred 
prisoners, half of them wounded, from the hospital at 
Cotrone. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that 
by a little more vigour immediately after Maida 
Reynier's army might have been almost totally de- 
stroyed. 1 

Stuart meanwhile returned to Messina to exhibit his 
laurels, as his chief staff-officer expressed it. In truth, 
in spite of his failings, he had done some solid work. 
He had fought an action which had shaken the reputa- 
tion of the French and enhanced that of the British ; 
he had destroyed five hundred of their best troops, and 
taken from two to three thousand prisoners ; he had 
driven the enemy from both Calabrias, capturing all the 
stores, guns, and boats that they had collected for the 
invasion of Sicily ; and by the occupation of the ports 
on the north of the straits he had averted, for a time 
at least, all danger of such an invasion. But on the other 
hand Gaeta had fallen, and not all his petty successes 
could counterbalance this great failure. Naples, which, 
by a little attention to his duty, Stuart might have 
made a distraction to Napoleon for another twelve 
months, perhaps even to the wrecking of the Emperor's 
plans in Germany, was now firmly established in French 
hands ; and, while this was so, Sicily could not be con- 
sidered safe. It is true that Sidney Smith was far more 
responsible for this state of affairs than was Stuart, 
for the Admiral had actually given the General to 
understand that he would sail to the relief of Gaeta. 
No language of reprehension can be too strong for his 
behaviour. But Stuart also was greatly to blame for 
his general inefficiency ; and happily he met with his 

On arriving at Reggio he heard that General Fox 
had been appointed to command in the Mediterranean, 

1 Macleod to Fox, 27th, 29th July ; in Fox to Sec. of State, 
3rd Aug. 1806. 



1806. and that large reinforcements were on their way to him. 
This in itself was nothing very mortifying. Fox was 
high up on the list of Lieutenant-generals, though by 
reason of his age, health, and mediocrity, he was by 
no means the man who should have been appointed to 
the post, which, in fact, he owed to the interest of his 
brother Charles James. Having much of his brother's 
generosity and sweet temper, Fox nominated Stuart to 
command in the two Calabrias, sought his advice, and 
did everything that a courteous gentleman could do to 
uphold his subordinate's honour and importance. All 
this was pleasant enough for the victor of Maida ; but 
together with Fox the Government very wisely sent out 
Sir John Moore, to be actually though not nominally 
Commander-in-chief. Now this was the rival of whom 
above all others Stuart was most jealous. Moore was 
not only his senior in the service, but of far greater 
reputation, a man of clear insight into the heart of 
things, of high disdain for charlatans, and of a critical 
faculty which was but too keen. Good-natured old 
Fox might be cajoled ; but Moore was a man who 
would put hard questions with a bright searching eye, 
and would combat hollow arguments with unsparing 
contempt. Stuart shrank from the ordeal, and obtained 
leave to go to Malta until he could take a passage to 
England. He was rewarded with the ribbon of the 
Bath, which he ill deserved, and his chief subordinates 
with a medal for Maida, which they had most justly 
earned. We shall see Stuart again in the Mediter- 
ranean, and shall find him unchanged. 
July 22. Fox arrived in Sicily on the 22nd of July, and 
within a fortnight the situation had become anything 
but satisfactory. Sidney Smith's wild proceedings 
and the belated dispatch of Acland to Salerno had done 
great mischief. Several leaders on the coast about 
Naples and Salerno had called their followers out to 
insurrection prematurely, only to find French columns 
descending upon them directly after the fall of Gaeta. 
The Masse made no attempt to withstand the enemy by 


uniting their bands, nor even to impede them by 1806. 
occupying the passes. It served the purpose of their J ulv - 
leaders much better to use the arms, which Smith had 
given them, for forcible plunder of their own towns and 
villages. With great difficulty Hudson Lowe per- 
| suaded many leading persons in the Principato to 
; ; remain quiet ; and it was well for them that they did 
1 so, for the French took signal vengeance on the native 
villages of the worst offenders, and shot all men taken 
1 with arms in their hands. Meanwhile refugees in in- 
[ conveniently large numbers were crowding into Capri ; 

and the French were steadily advancing southward. 
: The British consul for the Ionian islands had applied 
r to the Russian commander at Corfu to spare some 
i portion of his eight ships of the line and twenty-nine 
j armed vessels for a demonstration on the coast of Puglia 
• and Abruzzi ; but the request was refused on the ground 
f that the security of Cattaro forbade compliance, 
j Furthermore, when the news reached Palermo of 
1 d'Oubril's treaty with Napoleon and of his cession of 
Cattaro, the Court of Naples at once veered round 
towards friendship with France ; the Queen's party 
regained the ascendency ; Acton was dismissed from 
office, and Circello, Her Majesty's reigning favourite, 
was installed in his place. Altogether the outlook was 
extremely disquieting, and Fox very wisely sent Moore 
in a vessel up the western coast to inquire and to report. 

Moore sailed accordingly, and fell in with Sidney 
Smith in the Bay of Policastro, with his flag-ship 
seriously damaged and a long list of killed and 
wounded, the result of cannonading a tower armed with 
one gun and garrisoned by thirty Corsicans, who were 
only waiting for the Admiral to cease fire in order to 
desert from the French service to the British. 1 Having 
satisfied himself that Smith was doing far more harm 
than good by indiscriminate distribution of arms and 

1 Bunbury, pp. 267-8. Sidney Smith of course said nothing of 
this in his despatches, and merged the casualties into those of 
several weeks of petty operations. 

3 66 


1806. incitement to rebellion, Moore sent Acland and his 
Au S- two battalions back to Messina, in order to give no 
countenance to further risings. Before the fall of 
Gaeta such demonstrations might have been of service, 
but they were so no longer. Every day in fact showed 
that, by their fatal neglect of that one essential point, 
Smith and Stuart had ruined all favourable prospects in 
the Mediterranean. The force in Sicily, though aug- 
mented by the arrival of three new battalions 1 to a 
strength of between twelve and thirteen thousand men, 
was none the less compelled to stand on the defensive, 
for the entire French army was now released for active 
Sept. operations in the field. At the beginning of September 
Reynier began again to push his patrols towards 
Monteleone. The few Neapolitan troops that held the 
place, being unsupported by the Calabrese, fell back 
before them ; and the French General finally fixed his 
headquarters at Mileto, from whence his advanced posts 
were thrust forward towards Palmi. Meanwhile he 
made every preparation against the arrival of reinforce- 
ments, which should enable him to reoccupy the entire 
coast of Lower Calabria. I 

It may seem strange that Fox, with Moore at his 
elbow, made no attempt to beat up Reynier's quarters ; 
but there were two strong reasons against such action. 
In the first place, both the Generals on the spot and the 
Government at home were rightly averse from raising 
false hopes among the Neapolitans by petty raids which 
were of no permanent value. In the second, after the 
signature of d'Oubril's treaty, Fox was firmly persuaded, 
having no information to the contrary, that France and 
Russia had come to an agreement, and that England, 
being now isolated in Europe, must most carefully 
husband her resources. He was strengthened in this 
conviction by the fact that further reinforcements 

1 These appear to have landed on July 26th, and were the 
i/2ist, 2/27th, 2/35th. They all came from England. The two 
second battalions were very weak, and composed of the indifferent 
material which had been collected under the Army of Reserve Act. 


promised to him from England had not appeared. 1806. 
The truth was that the British Cabinet, in consequence 
of Talleyrand's threats against Portugal, was urging the 
Court of Lisbon to emigrate to Brazil with its fleet and 
army ; and on the 6 th of August had resolved to support Aug. 6. 
its diplomacy by the dispatch of an armament to the 
Tagus. A force of nine battalions, 1 was therefore 
embarked under the command of Lieutenant-general 
Simcoe, though it could only be completed by inter- 
cepting the reinforcements that had been designed for 
the Mediterranean and South America. The plan was 
however abandoned ; and in the middle of September 
the Government decided to dispatch these troops to 
their original destinations. In December, therefore, Dec. 
after a long voyage of three months, nearly five thousand 
men 2 were added to the force in Sicily, increasing it to 
a total of nearly nineteen thousand of all ranks. 

But meanwhile the storm in Germany had burst, and 
all the hopes of the Coalition had been dashed to the 
ground. On the 12th of September Napoleon called Sept. 12. 
upon Prussia to disarm, and receiving only defiance 
in reply, took up the challenge, and on the 6th of Oct. 6. 
October declared war. All Europe was high in hope 
that deliverance was come at last. Godoy, impatient of 
the control of Spain by France, opened negotiations 
with England ; and Italy, fired by the successes of 

1 1 and 3/ 1 st Guards, i/i 3th, i/40th, i/45th, 1/5 2nd, i/62nd, 
i/87th ; 8 cos* /95th. 

The Brigadiers were Wynyard, Paget, Brent Spencer, and Sir 
S. Auchmuty. 

and 3/ 1st Guards .... 2559 rank and file. 
i/52nd „ ... 961 „ „ 

1 /62nd „ ... 498 „ 


2 companies R.A. .... 250 
Sec. of State to Fox, 15th Sept. 1806. Return in Bunbury, 
p. 459. 

* These appear to have been3 cos. of i/95th and 5 cos. of 2/95^. Cope's 
History of the Rifle Brigade, p. 17. But this portion of Cope's book is 
extremely slovenly and inaccurate. 

3 68 


1806. Maida and Capri, was ready, as in 1799, to turn upon 
the French. In three weeks all was over. On the 
Oct. 14. 14th of October were fought the battles of Jena and 
Auerstadt, and by the 31st Prussia's boasted army had 
ceased to exist and her power was shattered to frag- 
ments. Her collapse was not only complete but 
ignominious, and excited little pity though great dismay. 
Russia still remained in arms ; but Alexander had 
chosen this most inopportune moment for a quarrel 
with the Turks. England's part was above all things 
to give him assistance ; but the chances of a successful 
offensive in Italy had been wasted by Sidney Smith and 
Stuart, and unfortunately British troops which should 
have been employed in Europe were diverted far over 
sea by the avarice and self-seeking of Smith's brother 
charlatan, Home Popham. It is necessary, therefore, 
now to return once more to events in South America. 1 

1 The authorities for the operations in the Mediterranean are 
the official records in the Record Office. W.O. Mediterranean, 
Vols. 142 seq., and the Secretary of State's Entry Books, W.O. 
Vols. 52 seq. Bunbury's Great War with France is also invaluable 
as well as admirably written ; and there is useful information also 
in Boothby's Under England's Flag, and the Life of Lord Seaton. 
Mr. Oman in his study of Maida {Journal of the Royal Artillery, 
March, 1908) has collected most valuable statistics and facts from 
the French archives. The inimitable letters of Paul Louis 
Courier are of the greatest interest and worth on the French side. 


Immediately upon his occupation of Buenos Ayres, 1806. 
as has been told, Beresford wrote to Baird an urgent 
appeal for reinforcements. Sir David promptly responded 
by dispatching to him two battalions, three squadrons, 
and other small detachments to the number of about 
twenty-two hundred of all ranks, 1 which sailed from the 
Cape on the 29th of August. Sir Home Popham, for Aug. 29. 
his part, took the extraordinary step of sending a 
circular round to the leading merchants of London, 
reporting that he had opened a gigantic market for their 
goods and inviting them to take advantage of it. 
Nevertheless Beresford was not deceived as to the 
danger of his position ; and very soon the Spanish 
colonists awoke to a shameful sense of the surrender 
which they had made to a handful of men. By the 
third week in July Beresford was aware that a 
rising against him was in preparation, and that the 
leaders of the movement were two men, Captain Liniers 

1 R.A. 
i/ 3 8th . . . 

1 company /54th 

2 squadrons /20th L.D. 
1 squadron /21st L.D. 

Add one-eighth for officers, sergeants, 
and drummers 


936 rank and file. 




2 B 

370 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

i 806. of the Spanish Navy and Puerridon, one of the municipal 
officers of Buenos Ayres, who had at first been most 

friendly towards him. These two began to collect : 

forces on both sides of the river, Liniers at Monte : 

Video, and Puerridon at Pedriel, about twenty miles i 

outside Buenos Ayres. Leaving Popham to check r 

Liniers, Beresford marched at two o'clock on the 1 

Aug. 1. morning of the 1st of August upon Pedriel, with five : 

hundred and fifty men and six guns. Misled by his 1 

guides, he did not reach his destination until eight z 

o'clock, when he found about two thousand hostile i 

troops drawn up in a good position with ten guns, ci 

Twenty minutes sufficed to disperse them and to capture t 

all their cannon ; and Beresford returned to Buenos 1 

Ayres the same night, having lost five of his own men j 

wounded, against a loss to the enemy of about one r 
hundred killed, wounded, and taken. 

Beresford counted upon this success to secure him t; 

at least until reinforcements should arrive ; but on the 1 
Aug. 3. night of the 3rd Liniers successfully crossed the river 

with twenty-eight vessels, unobserved by Popham's 1 

squadron, and landed at Las Conchas,*4:wenty-one miles ti 
from Buenos Ayres. Gales and torrents of rain pre- 
vented Liniers from moving and Beresford from 
marching out to attack him, as he desired ; but at length, 

Aug. 10. on the 10th, Liniers, having been joined by several j 
thousand raw levies from Buenos Ayres, began his advance 

upon the city, sending forward a summons to Beresford j 
to surrender. The latter replied by a defiance ; and 

shortly afterwards one of his outlying guards was surprised t< 

and attacked at the north end of the town. Sallying t 

forth to rescue this party, he found himself too late ; \ 

whereupon taking up a defensive position in front of c 

the fort, he resolved, if there were yet time, to retreat. s 

Aug. n. On the nth accordingly he ordered the sick, the women j j 
and the children to be embarked during the night, 
and arranged a signal with Popham which would 
intimate to the Commodore that the troops had 
evacuated the fort and were marching to Ensenada to 



J l re-embark. Throughout the 10th and 1 ith, however, 1806. 
! j a constant fire was maintained upon his men from 
i the houses adjoining their position ; and on the morning 
§ of the 1 2 th it was evident that the whole population Aug. 1 
% had turned out to the attack. Beresford's chosen 
k refuge was in the square directly in front of the fort, 
e an open space about one hundred yards across, and 
e divided almost in half by a long colonnaded building, 
is Two streets entered it from the rear on each side of 
it the fort and were protected by its guns ; two more 
le debouched into it from each flank opposite to the ends 
si of the central building ; and two more again met at 
e each of the further angles. In the building itself 
is was stationed the Seventy-first ; the St. Helena infantry 
n was posted so as to enfilade the rear entrances ; and the 
ie marines and seamen were drawn up in front. Guns 
were also brought up to close the approaches on 
n the flanks, and the principal houses in the square 
ie were likewise occupied. 

i At about half-past nine the enemy delivered their 
'j attack upon Beresford's front and both flanks, directing 
s their artillery chiefly against his front. In the streets 
the assailants were easily beaten off and three of their 
j guns taken ; but a galling fire from the tops of the build- 
%l ings that commanded the fort and square worked havoc 
al among the British. Towards noon Beresford, having 
:ej lost one hundred and sixty-five men 1 and being unwill- 
dling to sacrifice more to no purpose, ceased firing and 
d| hoisted the white flag. The tumultuous levies opposed 
I to him showed no respect to the flag ; and it was some 
J time before Liniers could check their further aggression, 
J towards which, as is usual in such cases, the absence 
oil of any danger prodigiously emboldened them. After 
tl a short parley with Liniers, a capitulation was drawn up 
a and signed by the two commanders, to the effect that 
it, British property should be respected, and that Beres- 

1 2 officers and 46 n.c.o. and men killed. 
8 officers and 99 n.c.o. and men wounded. 
tc j 10 „ „ „ missing. 



1806. ford and his people should become prisoners ; but that 
they should be immediately exchanged for the prisoners 
captured by him at Buenos Ayres, and should be shipped 
to England. There can be little doubt that Liniers 
intended faithfully to observe this treaty, for he sent 
his own aide-de-camp to Popham with orders to bring 
up the transports for embarkation of the troops ; but 
circumstances were too strong for him. Popham's 
raid had caused an insurrection against the authority 
of the Spanish Government ; the Viceroy had been 
driven out ; and revolutionary leaders had usurped his 
power. Such folk, especially if they are of southern 
blood, do not boggle at trifles. The colonists had 
lost six or seven hundred killed and wounded in the 
attack, and their chiefs had some excuse for feeling 
vindictive against the British. They therefore re- 
pudiated the treaty, confiscated all British property, and 
carried Beresford and his men away prisoners some 
hundreds of miles into the interior. 

Here then closed the first act of this little drama. 
Popham, and later on Beresford, inveighed bitterly 
against the treachery of the colonists,* who had turned 
against them after swearing allegiance to King George. 
Such outcry was ridiculous. If the British had offered 
the inhabitants deliverance and protection from Old 
Spain, they would have been received with open arms ; 
but there was no reason why the colonists should expose 
themselves to the vengeance of their mother-country 
simply to satisfy the cupidity of a British Commodore. 
Most unfortunately Popham was safely on board his ship 
in the river, so that the colonists had no chance of 
hanging him as he deserved. However, it was no 
pleasing task for him to report the disastrous issue of 
his raid, which he endeavoured to palliate by alleging 
that at least it had done material damage to Spain. 1 
But, long before his letters reached home, Spain was 
negotiating for alliance with England ; and when that 

1 Popham to Admiralty, 25th Aug.; to Duke of York, 6th Sept. 
1 806. 



alliance was finally made two years later, the memory 1806. 
of this attack, being naturally though wrongly ascribed 
to the British Government, still rankled in the minds 
of good Spaniards. However, the mischief was 
done ; and Popham could only withdraw his ships, 
having first embarked a few small British detachments 
which were still ashore, and drop down the river to a 
safer anchorage. 

A month later, on the 13th of September, Beresford's Sept. 1 
report of his original capture of Buenos Ayres arrived 
in England, and was received by the nation at large 
with transports of delight. Visions of new markets, 
boundless wealth and relief from the terrible burden 
of taxation rose before the eyes of all ; and merchants 
and speculators hastened to ship off large cargoes to La 
Plata in response to the imprudent circular from Popham. 
Only the unfortunate Cabinet which, with its hands 
already over-full, had to provide for a new and unforeseen 
demand for troops, was touched by doubt or dismay. 
At least one of its members, the Prime Minister Lord 
Grenville, was extremely angry ; and it was, I suspect, 
mainly at his instance that the decision was taken to 
recall Baird, the Governor of St. Helena, and Popham, 
and to try the last named by court-martial. But, 
most regrettably, no effort was made to repudiate the 
Commodore's action. We have seen that a force had 
already been appointed to sail for Rio de la Plata under 
Sir Samuel Auchmuty, and had been countermanded in 
order to furnish troops for the Portuguese expedition 
in August. The latter enterprise having been aban- 
doned, there was no reason why the reinforcements 
should not proceed to South America ; and Auchmuty 
received instructions to that effect on the 22nd of Sept. 2 
September. His troops numbered in all rather over 
four thousand of all ranks, 1 and his orders bade him 

1 Auchmuty's force — 

1 /40th 1000 

1/87U1 826 

3 cos. /95th ..... 300 


1806. place himself under Beresford's command. Incase 
Beresford should be in difficulties or should have 
surrendered, he was to endeavour to repair the loss 
and to obtain a footing which should enable him to hold 
his own, pending the arrival of a further reinforce- 
ment of three thousand men, which would sail three 
weeks after him. If this task should appear hopeless, 
he was to return to the Cape. In any case, the further 
reinforcement above mentioned was required elsewhere, 
and was not to be detained longer than was demanded 
for the relief of Beresford or the recovery of a station 
on the coast. 

To Beresford himself Ministers wrote with a certain 
grimness, which showed their embarrassment and mis- 
giving. " You are not accountable for the expedition/ ' 
they said in effect, " and your conduct is approved. 
We have for long been restrained from invading Spanish 
South America by the fear of exciting a revolt against 
Spain, which could only be controlled by a British force 
of superior strength. It is with this view, as much as 
with that of securing valuable possessions, that your 
force has been so much increased. Use your judgment 
and your troops principally to avert the evil of such 
a revolt as we have mentioned, making none but un- 
avoidable changes in the Government. Above all, 
avoid pledging the King's Government to conditions 
which it might not be able to make good. We can 
only assure the inhabitants of protection so long as 
our troops are there ; and our desire is that they shall 
never suffer from their amicable disposition to us." 1 
From such scanty information as was before them 

with drivers } * .170 

17th L.D 700 (dismounted) 

2996 rank and file. 

(Sec. of State to Auchmuty, 22nd Sept.). Military Transactions, i. 20. 
adds the 9th L.D., and calls the total 3400 r. and f. But the 9th had 
not sailed in November. Courts and Cabinets of George III., iv. 95. 
1 Sec. of State to Beresford, 21st Sept. 1806. 


Ministers could hardly have written more fairly than 1806. 
this. Beresford, upon the first hasty view, had reported 
that the inhabitants were friendly, and that a rein- 
forcement of two thousand infantry and six hundred 
cavalry would be sufficient to hold the country. More- 
over it was true that Ministers had refused to invade 
South America, Lord Grenville having declined to 
listen to the most insinuating arguments of Miranda; 
and their unwillingness to incite an insurrection, which 
they could not support, had doubtless been heightened 
not only by the memories of La Vendee, but by 
Sidney Smith's recent follies in Calabria. Why then 
did they direct Auchmuty to make good or to supple- 
ment Beresford's work by the employment of force? 
The only explanation is that they yielded to the 
pressure of the merchants and to the outburst of vulgar 
enthusiasm with which England is apt to greet those 
self-seeking adventurers who, under pretext of wreaking 
an old national grudge, force their country into war for 
their private advantage. Moreover, it must be granted 
that the temptation to undertake the venture was strong. 
Napoleon's great plan for excluding British commerce 
from the Continent of Europe could be laughed at if 
the whole of South America were thrown open as a new 
market ; and there was promise of further advantage 
in the interception of the gold which flowed through 
the channel of Spain into the Emperor's treasury. 
Still, piratical raids of the kind, from Cromwell's attack 
upon St. Domingo onward, have never prospered when 
countenanced by Government ; and it would have been 
a good warning to adventurers of later generations if 
Popham's action had been repudiated and Popham 
himself disgraced. 

Auchmuty sailed on the 9th of October ; and four Oct. 9. 
days later Baird's reinforcements from the Cape entered Oct. 13. 
Rio de la Plata, to learn with blank amazement that 
Beresford and the whole of his men were prisoners. 
Lieutenant-colonel Backhouse of the Forty-seventh 
thus found himself in command of some two thousand 



1806. men in a strange land, with no orders and no means 
of divining what the Government might wish him to 
do. However, after consultation with Popham, he 
determined to land and take up a position on shore. 

Oct. 29. Disembarking accordingly on the 29th with four hundred 
men of the Thirty-eighth off Maldonado, he swept away 
with the bayonet some six hundred colonists, who tried 
to protect the place, and duly installed himself, having 

Oct. 30. captured their two guns. On the following day the 
island of Goretti, which secured the harbour, as well as 
batteries mounting thirty-two guns, were surrendered 
to him ; and thus both ships and men were completely 
provided for at a cost to the British of six men, and to 
the colonists of fifty men, killed and wounded. After 
this brief encounter no enemy came within ten miles of 
Maldonado for some time ; and this was fortunate, for 
it was an open town and so situated as to be untenable 
by a small force. However, since Backhouse did not 
discover that fact, he was not uneasy ; and as Popham 
had obtained a good anchorage, which was all that he 
wanted, he was careful not to point out the defects 
of the position, even if (as was very improbable) he 
perceived them. Moreover, Backhouse was able at first 
to procure horses for his cavalry, and to bring in 
supplies with little difficulty or danger. There he 
remained, therefore, for over three months, unmolested 
indeed, but wholly isolated from the world until in due 
time Auchmuty arrived in the river. 

But meanwhile popular pressure or infection by 
popular sentiment had enlarged the Government's 
ambition with regard to South America ; and in the 
course of October Windham evolved one of the most 
astonishing plans that ever emanated from the brain 
even of a British Minister of War. Robert Craufurd, 
a Colonel low down on the list was, to the great 
indignation of his superior officers, 1 the instrument 
selected to carry this out. His instructions began by 

1 An Authentic Narration of the Proceedings of the Expedition under 
Brig.-Gen. Craufurd (London, 1808). 



premising that the fame of the superiority of British over 1806. 
Spanish rule must no doubt have crossed the Andes, and 
that it was therefore intended to send four thousand 
men, 1 escorted by a sufficient squadron, to gain a footing 
upon the west coast of South America. The reduction 
of the province of Chile was to be the ultimate purpose, 
and the capture of a strong military post on the west 
; coast the primary object, of the expedition. If Craufurd 
: should succeed in conquering Chile, or any part of it, 
! he was to preserve peace and order. He was not to 
I encourage revolt in the neighbouring provinces, and not 
r to pledge England to give protection longer than her 
) troops should remain on the spot ; but at the same time 
' he was to be most careful to announce and to prove 
f that protection and not booty was the purpose of the 
f enterprise. If he should obtain possession of Valparaiso, 
1 he was to lose no time in informing Beresford, " and in 
t concerting with him the means of securing by a chain 
1 of posts, or in any other adequate manner, an unin- 
Si terrupted communication both military and commercial 
s between Chile and Buenos Ayres." 2 
e This last brilliant suggestion for carrying a chain of 
t posts across the Andes along a line, as the crow flies, 
n of nine hundred miles — the distance, roughly speaking, 
e from Madrid to Amsterdam — is added to the draft of 
d the despatch in Windham's own handwriting. How it 
e was to be effected, and how at the same time Valparaiso, 
Buenos Ayres, and Monte Video were to be occupied 
y by a total force of six thousand men, the Minister did 
s not explain. Nor is it obvious how an invading General 

16 1 1 The force originally appointed for him consisted of : — I /5th, 
it 678; l/36th, 900; I /45th, 661 ; l/88th, 762; 5 cos./95th, 500 ; 
2 cos. R.A., 250 ; deserters, 250. Total, 4001 r. and f., say 4500 
of all ranks. But a subsequent return (S.S. to Whitelocke, 5th March 
1807) stated it as follows: — 2 sq./6th D.G., 299; R.A., 243; 
l/5th, 836 ; l/36th, 822 ; I /45th, 850 ; l/88th, 798 ; 5 cos./95th, 
364. Total, 4212 r. and f., say 4800 of all ranks. The deserters 
above mentioned were probably men enlisted from among the French 
prisoners of war, — a most dangerous and foolish practice if the 
recruits were of French nationality. 

2 Sec. of State to Craufurd (secret), 30th Oct. 1806 (two letters). 

378 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xin 

1806. could proclaim, especially in the face of Popham's raid, 
that he came to afford protection and not to take 
booty, and at the same time give no assurances to the 
population that the protection would be more than 
temporary. Military officers by incapacity and mis- 
judgment have frequently placed Ministers in situations 
of cruel difficulty, but it may be doubted whether any 
General has ever set them a task quite so impossible as 
that prescribed, not in the doubt and turmoil of a 
campaign but in the tranquillity of the closet, by 
Windham to Craufurd. 

However, this expedition to Chile by no means 
exhausted the projects of the Ministry for South 
America. Lord Grenville, of all men, who had so far 
maintained his sobriety, came forward at about this 
same time with a plan for an attack upon Mexico from 
both sides ; from the east with six thousand European 
and half as many black troops ; from the west by a 
thousand Europeans and four thousand Sepoys from 
India, who should first attack Manilla and thence 
proceed to Acapulco. " The objection obviously is," 
he wrote with a candid self-criticism* that is infinitely 
ludicrous, "that these two attacks cannot correspond 
exactly in point of time ; " but none the less he was inclined 
to risk the eastern expedition alone rather than delay 
it. Accordingly Sir Arthur Wellesley was directed 
in November to report upon the matter and to draw 
up plans of operations, which he duly did at great 
length, 1 discussing further the feasibility of an attack 
upon Venezuela. The irony of the whole situation 
was heightened by the fact that in June Miranda had 
returned to the British West Indies from an abortive 
attempt to excite a revolution at Caracas, and had begged 
men, arms, and ammunition from General Bowyer at 
Barbados. Bowyer very properly refused to have any- 
thing to do with him ; but Miranda, who was nothing 
if not persistent, contrived to make his way again to 
Caracas, where he published on the 2nd of August 
1 Wellington, Suppl. Desp., vi. pp. 35-61. 




I an impudent proclamation that he had come to fight 1806. 
e " for the independence of the Venezuelans under the 

e auspices and protection of the British fleet." This 
ti done, he wrote to Sir Eyre Coote at Jamaica for any 
i assistance that could be afforded. Coote, like Bowyer, 
s declined to send him anything, and in November the 
y. Secretary of State wrote to approve of Coote's action. 1 
§ To judge by appearances, therefore, the audacious 
a I greed of a Commodore had sufficed to throw the 
y entire Ministry off its balance, so that it swayed to 
and fro, in hopeless vacillation, between the expediency 
s either of devoting all the strength of England to the 
h conquest of South America, or of leaving that con- 
r tinent wholly untouched. 

s Fortunately Grenville's wild idea was abandoned ; 

II though Craufurd's force, after long delay, sailed from 
ti Falmouth amid much curiosity as to its destination, 
a Some of the troops had already been embarked for 
11 months, but by the care of their officers they were in 
e good health ; and Craufurd before sailing examined 
" every ship minutely himself, giving liberal orders for 
y all articles that could contribute to the comfort of the 
I men. The whole convoy numbered forty sail of 
d transports and merchantmen, 2 and was escorted by 
y four ships of the line and as many smaller vessels 
J: under Commodore Stopford ; but this squadron was 
J to be replaced before the end of the voyage by a fleet 
it I under Admiral Murray, who was the naval commander- 

1 in-chief of the expedition. On the 14th of December Dec. 14. 
J the fleet anchored at Porto Praya in the Cape de 
in Verde Islands, to await the arrival of Murray. Three 
; | weeks passed without a sign of the Admiral ; and on l8o7 
d| the 6th of January Craufurd, pursuant to his orders, Jan. 6. 
it I sent off the Ninth Light Dragoons under convoy of a 
J frigate, to Rio de la Plata. On the following day he Jan. 7. 
5 1 represented to the Commodore that Government had 

1 Bowyer to Sec. of State, 20th June ; Coote to Sec. of State, 
51 ! 26th August ; Sec. of State to Coote, 6th Nov. 1806. 

2 The 9th L.D. sailed with this convoy. 

3 8o 


1807. particularly urged haste upon him, and proposed that, 
unless Murray should come in by the nth, Stopford 
should escort him on to the Cape of Good Hope. 1 

Jan. 1 1. Stopford agreed; and accordingly on the nth the 
squadron, less two ships of the line which returned 

Feb. 23. home, weighed anchor, and on the 23rd of February 
reached Table Bay. Here Admiral Murray, who had 
left Porto Pray a after Craufurd's departure, was already 
expecting his arrival impatiently ; for new orders had 
just come in from England. Vague reports of the 
recapture of Buenos Ayres had penetrated to London 
by way of Lisbon on the 2nd of January ; and a swift 
sailing vessel had been sent forward to the Cape to 
direct Murray and Craufurd to proceed straight to 
Rio de la Plata. To Auchmuty 2 likewise were now 
sent definite orders to recover the territory of Buenos 
Ayres, and, only after that object had been accomplished, 
to despatch Craufurd to fulfil his original mission. 

Meanwhile Auchmuty himself after a weary voyage 

Jan. 5. had at last reached Maldonado on the 5th of January. 
His transports being bad sailers, he had been obliged 
to put into Rio Janeiro for water ; 3hd having there 
heard of the recapture of Buenos Ayres and of the 
occupation of Maldonado by a force of unknown 
strength, he was prepared for the possibility of 
unpleasant news on his arrival. Nothing, however, 
was yet amiss with Backhouse, though his provisions 
were becoming scanty and the difficulty of obtaining 
them was very seriously increased. The enemy kept 
four hundred horse perpetually hovering round 
Maldonado, and these troops had become extremely 
troublesome. They were armed with musket and 
sword, and their methods of warfare were such that 
the English dragoons, whose natural bulk added to a 
cumbrous equipment was far too heavy for the native 
horses, were powerless against them. " They ride up," 
wrote Auchmuty, " dismount, fire over the backs of 

1 Craufurd to Sec. of State, nth Jan. 1807. 

2 Sec. of State to Auchmuty, 3rd Jan. 1807. 



their horses, mount and gallop off. All the inhabitants 1 807. 
are accustomed to this sort of warfare, and every 
inhabitant is an enemy." 1 The prospect was not 
cheering. Feeling himself too weak to attempt 
Buenos Ayres, Auchmuty, after consultation with 
Admiral Stirling, who had come out with him to 
supersede Popham, 2 decided that the only possible 
enterprise was an attack upon Monte Video. This, 
however, was no easy matter. Four twenty -five 
pounders had indeed been sent with him, but no 
battering-train, no ammunition, no sappers, no military 
artificers, very few entrenching tools, and only one 
subaltern of engineers. All material for a siege had to 
be drawn from the ships ; and Popham's squadron had 
already expended much of its powder. But there was 
no help for it. Auchmuty on the 13th evacuated Jan. 13. 
Maldonado, leaving a small garrison on the island of 
Goretti ; and sailing up the river landed on the morn- 
ing of the 1 6th in a little bay, west of the Caretas Jan. 16. 
rocks, about nine miles below Monte Video. The 
Spaniards, though assembled in force and with guns 
in position, made little attempt to oppose the dis- 
embarkation, few being bold enough to face the fire 
of the ships. Auchmuty was thus able to post his 
army strongly about a mile from the shore in order 
to cover the landing of supplies and stores ; and on 
the 19th he advanced upon the city. A force of Jan. 19. 
four thousand mounted men offered a feeble resist- 
ance to him, but was speedily brushed away ; and 
the fugitives seem to have carried panic with them, 
for on the same evening the suburbs of Monte Video 
were evacuated. Auchmuty, while halting his main 
body for the night two miles from the citadel, pushed 
his advanced posts forward almost to the walls. In 

1 Auchmuty to Sec. of State, 7th Feb. 1807. 

2 The Admiralty, which did not love Popham, carried its 
resentment against him so far as to leave him to pay for his own 
passage home in a merchant brig. Colburne's Military Magazine, 
August, 1836, p. 491. 

3 82 


807. this position he was attacked next morning by a force 
. 20. Q f s j x thousand men with several guns. They advanced 
in two columns, the right consisting of cavalry which 
threatened to turn his left flank ; while the left, made 
up of infantry, assailed his left centre. The infantry 
was checked by a picquet of four hundred men, which 
held its own until reinforced by three companies of 
the Fortieth. But the Spanish foot refused to yield to 
a charge of this little body until the Rifles and Light 
companies fell upon their flank, when they gave way and 
were pursued with great slaughter into the town. From 
two to three hundred Spaniards were killed and as 
many taken ; and the cavalry, seeing the fate of their 
comrades, at once retired, leaving Auchmuty free to 
invest the city without the slightest further molestation. 

Monte Video stands on a rocky ridge of distinct 
formation from the land around it, and at that time 
covered no more than a peninsula measuring about 
a mile north and south by a mile and a half east and 
west. Surrounded by water on three sides, it was 
fortified upon those sides with a series of thirteen very 
heavy seaward batteries, which were* built to suit the 
configuration of the ground and were connected by a 
covered way. All were difficult of approach owing to the 
rocky nature of the shore ; the most important of them 
were covered by a small enclosed fort, called after 
St. Philip, at the north-western angle of the peninsula ; 
and the only landing-place was on the northern front, 
at a stone pier within the harbour. On the east or 
landward side the city receded from the water on each 
flank in such manner as to form a great salient angle, 
of which the southern face was about a thousand yards 
long, and the northern about twelve hundred. The 
landward front had been originally protected only by 
a stone wall some four feet thick and fifteen feet high, 
but to this had been added, at the point of the salient 
angle, a square fort with four bastions, whereof the face 
towards the country was further covered by a ditch and 
a small ravelin. The whole was revetted with brick, 


and possessed no entrance except from within the town 1 
over a small drawbridge. On each flank of this fort 
were two demi-bastions, mounting heavy ordnance ; 
and beyond these again, at a distance of about three 
hundred yards, stood two more demi-bastions, that on 
the north side mounting fourteen, and that on the south 
side seven guns. The entrances to the town were two : 
the north gate between the citadel and the fourteen- 
gun battery ; and the south gate, about one hundred 
yards from the river, being strongly protected not only 
by the cannon of the seven-gun battery but by two heavy 
guns in a round tower near the water. Altogether the 
defences of Monte Video showed one hundred and 
thirteen pieces of artillery, twenty-four of them in the 
citadel, and over forty more on the landward face. The 
works, contrary to the information furnished to Auch- 
muty, were in excellent repair ; and in their vicinity 
the rock was so close to the surface that ordinary 
entrenching tools were useless. The garrison numbered 
six thousand brave but imperfectly trained men. Auch- 
muty's numbers were slightly superior, but his troops were 
by no means all of the first class. The Forty-seventh 
was in indifferent order ; the company of the Seventy- 
first consisted of mere children ; and Auchmuty could 
only describe the Eighty -seventh as fine boys. The 
Thirty-eighth, Fortieth, and Seventeenth Light Dra- 
goons were, however, excellent ; and it was on them, 
together with the seamen and marines, that Auchmuty 
depended chiefly for success in a hazardous enterprise. 1 

1 Auchmuty to C.-in-C, 6th Feb. 1807. 

The force was brigaded as follows : — 

Cavalry Brigade. Col. Lloyd, 17th L.D. ; 17th, 20th, 21st 
L.D. 959 sabres. 

1st Infantry Brigade. Col. Browne, 40th ; 38th, 40th, 87th, and 
3 cos. of 95th. 

2nd Infantry Brigade. Brig.-gen. Lumley ; 47th, 1 co./7ist, naval 
batt. (800) L.I. cos. of infantry regiments. 
R.A. 123 men with 6 guns. 

Total. 5632 r. and f., say 6300 of all ranks. 

Admiral Stirling had generally 1400 men ashore, and his flag-ship 


1807. The General's first task was to land his own heavy 
guns and several others borrowed from the broadsides 
of the fleet, the latter of which, owing to the small size 
of their wheels, were a source of much trouble. Mean- 
while the scattered buildings outside the northern front 
were cleared away, the largest only being left standing 
in order to cover the erection of the first batteries, 
namely one of four twenty-four pounders and another 

Jan. 23. of two mortars, against the citadel. On the 23rd an 
additional battery of two guns was constructed with 
the object (which was not attained) of preventing 
the enemy's gunboats from bringing stores, supplies, 
and even water into the town from the other side of 

Jan. 25. the harbour. On the 25th the four-gun and mortar 
batteries opened fire, while the smaller vessels stood in 
to cannonade the town ; but the attack produced no 
appreciable effect either on the works or on the spirit 

Jan. 28. of the inhabitants. On the 28th, therefore, another 
battery of six guns was established against the citadel, 
which soon knocked the parapet to pieces, but left the 
ramparts little injured. The supply of powder now began 
to run short, and Auchmuty, as a last resource, threw 
up another battery of six guns within six hundred yards 
of the works, in the hope of breaching the wall close to 

Feb. 2. the south gate. By the 2nd of February the breach 
was reported to be practicable, and since a hostile force 
of four thousand men was said to be approaching, 
Auchmuty summoned the Governor to surrender. He 
was answered by defiance, and resolved to assault before 
dawn on the morrow. The forlorn hope consisted 
chiefly of men of the Fifty-fourth under a sergeant of 
the Thirty -eighth and Lieutenant Everard of the 
Queen's, who though attached to the Thirty-eighth, 
claimed the privilege as belonging to the senior 
regiment. Two companies of Rifles, the flank- 
battalions, and Thirty- eighth were to follow them, \ 
with the Fortieth in support. One company of Rifles 

was frequently left with only thirty men aboard. Stirling to 
Admiralty, 8th Feb. 1807. 

ch. xii HISTORY OF THE ARMY 385 

and the Eighty-seventh were posted by the north 1 
gate, which was to be opened for them by the other 
column. The remainder of the force was held in re- 
serve against the possible arrival of a relieving force from 

At three o'clock, in extreme darkness, the attacking F 
column stole out towards the breach, arriving close to 
it before it was discovered. The first discharge of the 
enemy's guns struck down only one man, but the second 
laid low twenty-five men out of thirty who were follow- 
ing in immediate support ; and the leaders on arriving 
at the breach mistook it for the untouched wall and 
passed it by. In truth the enemy had so cunningly 
barricaded it by vast piles of hides, laid one upon 
another, that it was hardly practicable. For fifteen 
minutes the column wandered about under a very 
heavy fire, until at last Captain Renny of the light 
company of the Fortieth found the breach, and fell as 
he mounted it. With great difficulty, for the passage 
would admit but three men abreast, his soldiers forced 
their way to the summit and dropped from it twelve 
feet into the body of the place. Some then dashed 
into the town, while others turned to their left and 
carried in succession all the batteries round the place as 
far as Fort St. Philip. Even so, however, the Fortieth, 
which followed in support, also missed the breach, and 
passed twice under the fire of the batteries before they 
found it. Meanwhile the second column by the north 
gate grew impatient, and some of the Rifles, scaling the 
wall, forced the gate open to admit their comrades. 
The streets, which were laid out regularly at right 
angles, were defended by field-guns unlimbered at their 
[nlheads ; but these were speedily captured and the town 
iorlcleared with the bayonet. The citadel still made a 
iklshow of resistance, but some riflemen ascending the 
raltowers of the cathedral, which commanded the works, 
9a ispeedily made an end of it. At half-past eight the 
t , place surrendered at discretion ; and after some slight 
disorder, which was easily repressed, the troops were so 
II vol. v 2 c 

386 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xm 

1807. thoroughly under control that within a few hours the 
inhabitants were walking as usual about the streets. 

The enemy's loss in the assault was very heavy. 
About eight hundred were killed, five hundred wounded, I 
and two thousand taken prisoners, the remainder 
escaping across the harbour in boats, unmolested by the 
British squadron. The British casualties also were not 
light — six officers and one hundred and ten men killed ; 
twenty-one officers and two hundred and fifty-eight 
men wounded. The Light Battalion, with sixty-three 
killed and eighty-four wounded out of four or five 
companies, suffered most heavily, and next to them the 
Thirty-eighth with twenty-seven killed and one hundred 
and twenty-one wounded. In this regiment alone nine 
officers were struck down, three of them by mortal 
hurts. It was noticed that, in the case of wounds of 
the lower extremities, tetanus invariably supervened, 
with fatal results ; and to this cause were due the deaths 
of Colonel Brownrigg and Colonel Vassall, the excellent 
commanding officers of the Light Battalion and Thirty- 
eighth. Altogether the action was creditable to 
Auchmuty and to his troops, for the cross-fire upon 
the breach from the uninjured batteries on each flank 
was terrific, and would have daunted any but good and 
resolute soldiers. In fact, but that the shortness of the 
range prevented the enemy's grape-shot and canister j 
from scattering, 1 the attack would very probably have 

The losses of the British during the siege had been 
trifling, and those in the preliminary operations had not 
amounted to one hundred and fifty ; but Auchmuty, 
none the less, felt powerless to do more until Craufurd's 
Feb. 6. detachment should arrive. On the 6th a welcome 
reinforcement appeared in the shape of the Ninth Light 
Dragoons, which had been sent forward, as has been; 
already related, from Porto Praya ; but this in itself 
was insufficient. The population was to all appearance 
inveterately hostile ; and the only operation which 
1 Colburne's Military Magazine, loc. citat. 



might possibly alter its attitude was the capture of 1807. 
Buenos Ayres. But even if this were successfully 
accomplished, six thousand men were too few at once 
to hold Monte Video and to occupy a capital of sixty 
to seventy thousand inhabitants. The province, more- 
over, continued to be unquiet. In Buenos Ayres the 
revolutionary party had installed General Liniers as 
Governor ; and the Spanish Viceroy, who was hovering 
near Monte Video with a small force and watching 
Auchmuty's movements, was seized by emissaries of this 
party and carried prisoner to the capital. Convinced 
by this that the inhabitants, however hostile to the 
British, were still more hostile to Spain, the General 
was about to invite them to throw off Spanish rule and 
accept that of King George, when he was surprised by 
the sudden appearance of Beresford and Pack who, by 
the help of two South American gentlemen, had con- 
trived to escape, while travelling inland towards their 
appointed place of confinement. Beresford declined to 
take the command from Auchmuty, and prepared to go 
home ; but he was able first to assure him that, though 
the party which was friendly to England was strong, 
yet that it looked above all things for independence, 
and would not accept British rule except with a proviso 
that the country should not be handed back to Spain 
upon a peace. This being the one pledge that Auch- 
muty was unable to give, his overtures naturally came 
[to nothing. To strengthen his position, therefore, he 
occupied Colonia del Sacramento on the north shore 
over against Buenos Ayres, kept small columns in 
movement around Monte Video to preserve order and 
bring in supplies, and possessed his soul in patience 
until reinforcements should arrive. 1 

Meanwhile the British Cabinet, looking to the 
diversion of Craufurd's force to Rio de la Plata and to 
the steady accumulation of troops in that quarter from 
ar "lEngland and the Cape, decided to send out a senior 
TC |pfficer to take command of the whole. One member at 
1 Auchmuty to Sec. of State, 6th, 20th March 1807. 

3 88 


1807. least of the Cabinet would have been content to leave 
Auchmuty in charge of the entire army ; 1 but it was 
always possible that Beresford might have been released 
through Auchmuty's operations, in which case the 
supreme direction would have fallen to him. Upon the 
whole, therefore, Windham was probably right to send 
out a new commander-in-chief ; for Beresford, whether 
or not through his own fault, had not been very success- 
ful, and nothing was yet known of Auchmuty's acquittal 
of himself in this his first independent command. The 
choice fell upon Lieutenant-general John Whitelocke, 
an officer who was last seen by us at St. Domingo in 
1794, and who had since been Inspector-general of 
Recruiting. The reasons for this selection are not very 
obvious. Windham personally wished to appoint either 
Sir John Stuart, who was just returned clothed in the 
glory of Maida, or Robert Craufurd ; but the Duke of 
York very properly objected to both, Stuart being such 
a man as we know, and Craufurd so junior an officer 
that he could not have passed over Auchmuty's head. 
Lord Grenville proposed Sir George Prevost, who had 
shown most admirable spirit and resowce in Dominica 
on the occasion of Villeneuve's raid in 1805. Finally 
Lord Granville Leveson-Gower, who was not in the 
Cabinet, suggested Whitelocke, 2 possibly with a view to 
gaining the appointment of a kinsman as his second in 
command ; and Whitelocke was finally chosen. It is 
not easy, after the misfortunes that subsequently befell the 
man, to form an opinion as to Whitelocke's ability ; but 
he had certainly done good service in the West Indies, 
and was not without knowledge of his profession. His 
most objectionable characteristic seems to have been 
arrogant but spasmodic self-confidence, with an affecta- 
tion of coarse speech and manners which he conceived 
to be soldier-like bluntness, but which often degenerated 
into mere rudeness towards some of his inferiors and 
familiar obscenity of language towards others. He 

1 Courts and Cabinets of Geo. III., iv. 123. 
2 Windham's Diary, p. 497. 

ch. xii HISTORY OF THE ARMY 389 

stooped to court the favour of the rank and file by 1807. 
affected use of their phrases, with the inevitable result 
that he earned only their thorough contempt. 1 The 
inference is that he sought popularity with the lower 
ranks of the Army because he was unable to gain the 
respect of the higher. Such an officer is wholly unfit 
for any command. 

The only additional force sent out with Whitelocke 
was a single battalion — the Eighty-ninth — a draft of 
five hundred recruits, and one battery of Horse-Artillery, 
altogether about eighteen hundred men of all ranks. 
His instructions directed him simply to reduce the 
province of Buenos Ayres ; but the object of his enter- 
prise was defined to be, not so much to annoy or 
distress the enemy, as to occupy such stations or 
territory as could most easily be captured and would 
not require a larger garrison than eight thousand men. 
It was still uncertain whether Craufurd had received his 
orders to sail to Rio de la Plata ; but Auchmuty's troops, 
added to the eighteen hundred men now dispatched 
with Whitelocke, were considered sufficient to capture 
Buenos Ayres and to enforce the recovery of Beresford 
and of his fellow-prisoners. Finally it was intimated to 
Whitelocke that he might raise native troops, if he 
thought proper, and that if Buenos Ayres were mastered, 
he was to be civil Governor of the province, with a 
salary of £4000 a year from the provincial revenues. 2 

The General sailed accordingly in the Thisbe frigate 
at the end of March, and reached Monte Video on the 
10th of May after a voyage of nine weeks. He found May 10. 
all well with Auchmuty. An attempt had been made 
on the 22nd of April to surprise Pack's detachment at April 22. 
Colonia, but this had been foiled with trifling loss, and 
all was quiet. On the other hand, neither Craufurd 
nor the reinforcements from England had arrived ; 
and Whitelocke decided to await their coming before 
attacking Buenos Ayres, devoting himself meanwhile to 

1 Colburne's Military Magazine, loc. citat. 
2 Windham to Whitelocke (secret), 6th March 1807. 



1807. preparations for an advance. These were not easily 
accomplished. In spite of all exertions, horses enough 
could not be procured for the guns and cavalry. Such 
as were obtained were unbroken, and soon sank under the 
burden of unwonted work and insufficient food ; for it 
was midwinter south of the line, when the native grass 
contained little nourishment and no other description of 

May 30. forage was obtainable. At last, on the 30th of May, 
Craufurd's detachment was reported to be off the 
mouth of the river. On arriving at Table Bay on the 
23rd of March, he had agreed with Admiral Murray to 
sail in ten days, as soon as the transports should have 
been victualled and watered ; and in fact the armament 
actually sailed on the 6th of April, reached St. Helena 
on the 2 1 st, and, after taking in water, set off again on 
the 26th. But even on the 30th of May Craufurd's 
voyage was not nearly over. Fogs and contrary winds 

June 14. delayed him in the river, and not till the 14th of June 
did the whole of the transports reach Monte Video. By 
that time some of the troops had been on board ship 
for nine full months. 

Meanwhile the enemy was collecting reinforcements 
to cut off or attack Pack's isolated troops at Colonia ; 
and Whitelocke had found it necessary to reinforce the 
post to a strength of some fifteen hundred men. On the 
June 6. evening of the 6th Pack received intelligence of a body 
of the enemy encamped at San Pedro, some twelve 
miles away, under the command of General Elio, an 
officer lately arrived from Spain. Starting at three 
June 7. o'clock on the next morning with a force of about 
eleven hundred men of all ranks, 1 Pack came upon 
Elio at seven o'clock, and found him securely posted on 
rising ground, with a deep and marshy stream covering 
his front and both flanks, and the only ford defended 
by four field-guns and two howitzers. He decided to 
attack at once. The troops therefore crossed the ford 

1 9th L.D., 54; R.A., 315 40th, 481 ; 95th, 200; Light 
companies, 247. The detachment at Colonia consisted of 9th L.D., 
40th, 3 cos. /95th, 3 cos. L.I. 



on a very narrow front, waist deep in water, formed up 1807. 
on the further side, always under heavy fire of artillery, J un e 7- 
and advanced to the attack without firing a shot. The 
enemy's cavalry fled at once, but the infantry stood 
until the British were within a few paces, when they 
suddenly broke and were pursued with heavy slaughter. 
They left on the field one hundred and twenty dead, 
as many wounded, over one hundred prisoners and 
eight guns, while Pack's casualties did not exceed forty- 
eight, nearly one -third of which were due to the 
accidental explosion of an ammunition-waggon. 

Now, therefore, it was for Whitelocke to determine 
upon his plan of campaign ; and in order to do so he 
had first to decide some very difficult questions. That 
his first object must be to capture Buenos Ayres there 
was no doubt ; and there was equally no doubt that 
the brunt of the work must fall upon the Army, for the 
river near the shore was so shallow that the men-of-war 
could not approach nearer than within six to eight 
miles of the city. First, therefore, a place of dis- 
embarkation must be selected ; and the investigations of 
the Navy soon narrowed the choice down to a single 
point. Above Buenos Ayres the navigation was too 
difficult and intricate for a fleet of transports ; below it 
there was but one place where an army could be dis- 
embarked under cover of the ships of war, namely 
Ensenada de Barragon, some twenty-four miles below 
the city. If the protection of the fleet during the 
disembarkation were dispensed with, there was the 
Point of Quilmes, where Beresford had landed, which 
possessed the advantage of lying within eight miles, as 
the crow flies, from Buenos Ayres ; but reconnaissance 
showed that a battery had been erected to command 
the passage through the marsh, and so to foil any 
future attempts similar to Beresford's. It was therefore 
no reproach to Whitelocke that he fixed upon Ensenada 
for his landing-place. 

Next, how was the march from the strand to the city 
to be accomplished? The shore from Ensenada to 



1807. Buenos Ayres to a distance of two to four miles inland 
is but two feet above the level of the river, and in 
the rainy season was almost entirely under water. 1 
Beyond this marshy ground the land rises gradually to 
a height of twelve or fifteen feet ; and this higher tract 
extends westward, broken only by a multitude of little 
streams, as far as the village of Reduction, where 
another wet level, running far up the country, is inter- 
posed between that village and the capital. Through 
this level runs the little river Chuelo, over which the 
wooden bridge, which had been destroyed on the occasion 
of Beresford's landing, had been replaced. Little, 
however, was known or could be learned of the country, 
except of that portion of it which had been traversed by 
Beresford between Point Quilmes and Buenos Ayres. 
The few colonists of Monte Video friendly to the 
British knew nothing of the opposite shore over one 
hundred miles away ; and little more was to be learned 
at Colonia, which lies indeed over against Buenos Ayres, 
but rather remoter from it than is Calais from Dover. 
Such vague information as could be collected amounted 
to this. From Ensenada to Reduction^the distance was 
twenty miles ; and from Reduction to the capital nine 
miles more. There were three different roads, one on 
the sands, a second through the marsh, and a third, 
which was the best, on the heights. To reach this 
last some marshy ground must be passed, which was 
reported to be always practicable for a coach, and to be 
commonly traversed by the waggons of the country ; 
but, the heights once gained, the road was firm and 
good. From Reduction the high road crossed the 
Chuelo by the bridge ; but by making a detour the head 
of the river could be turned. There were few farm- 
houses on the road, and the troops could expect little 
shelter short of the suburbs of Buenos Ayres. As to 
fuel, it was not to be found except in human dwellings, 
for there was not a tree to be seen for miles. With 
regard to supplies, the plain swarmed with cattle, which 
1 An Authentic Narrative, etc., p. 183. 


could be caught by the native lasso-men, but there 1807. 
could be no certainty of finding bread-stuffs in any 
quantity until Buenos Ayres was reached. Such details 
as the extent and condition of the swamps behind 
Ensenada and the obstacles, excepting the Chuelo, that 
lay on the road, were utterly unknown. It may be 
urged that Whitelocke should have sent an officer to 
explore the route ; but it is extremely doubtful whether 
this would have been possible. The population was 
bitterly hostile. There were indeed a few British 
officers who could speak Spanish, but probably not 
one who could have successfully disguised himself. 
Had such an one travelled alone the country, the people 
would have made little of cutting his throat ; 1 had 
he taken an escort, it would have been quickly sur- 
rounded by superior numbers and overpowered. Pos- 
sibly it might have been practicable to bribe a priest 
to go as travelling companion with a reconnoitring 
officer, but even then it would not have been safe to 
trust the priest. At any rate no such thing was done, 
and no reconnaissance of the landing-place or line of 
march was made. 

Then came the question of transport. Horses, as 
has been told, were difficult to procure ; and those that 
had been obtained were for the most part unbroken and 
in any case too weak for any but the lightest work. In 
a campaign where cavalry was all important and where 
the equivalent of three strong regiments of British 
dragoons was on the spot, Whitelocke found it 
impossible to mount more than two squadrons. It was 
therefore evident that the men must carry rations for 

I three days upon their backs, and that, upon the 
occupation of Reduction, communication with the fleet 
must be opened at Point Quilmes in order to draw fresh 
supplies from the ships. So entirely was this necessity 
(accepted by Whitelocke that he gave no orders to the 
i commissariat to provide animals for purposes of trans- 
port. The only means of carriage that were provided, 
1 An Authentic Narrative, p. 189. 

394 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1807. therefore, consisted of half a dozen small mule-carts to 
bear supplies from the water's edge to any chosen depot ; 
and it was not until the ships actually anchored before 
Ensenada that the Commissary, according to his own 
account, realised that the army was to be landed not five 
miles, but more nearly thirty miles from Buenos Ayres. 

Next arose the question of the time for the attack, - 
which was most difficult to decide. The rainy season 
was immediately at hand and, though implying no such '> 
deluge as the monsoon in India, signified none the less 
a heavy though intermittent rainfall, which would I 
cause much sickness among the men if they were long * 
exposed to the weather, with great gales which would 3: 
impede the operations of small craft in the river. 
Good fortune might or might not delay the rains 
until the army reached Buenos Ayres ; but it was 
only reasonable to expect that, if Whitelocke deferred 
his operations until the rains ceased, the enemy would 
take advantage of the respite to convert Buenos Ayres 
from an open into a fortified town. On the other 
hand, Craufurd's detachment, which constituted fully 
one-half of the effective force, had betn on board ship 
for quite nine months, and some of the corps for even 
longer ; and it was certain that these men, after being 
cooped up and lowered by marine diet and lime-juice, 
would be weak, an easy prey to sickness, and wholly 
unfit to undergo immediately the hardships of a 
campaign. Colonel Denis Pack, who had been in the 
country for a year, was strongly of opinion that the 
operations should be delayed, but Whitelocke never 
consulted him upon the point, and Pack therefore kept 
his ideas to himself. 1 If, however, the army remained on 
the left bank of the river, Whitelocke was apprehensive 
lest he should be unable to feed during the winter so 
large a force as that which he commanded ; and for this 
and other reasons he decided to open the attack at 
once. 2 In support of this view of Whitelocke's, 
Leveson-Gower wrote to Windham on July 9 that 
1 C.-M., p. 423. 2 Ibid. p. 23. 



the army on arrival, though not positively pressed for 1807. 
victuals, was so short of flour that, in order to 
provide twenty-one days' bread, it was necessary to 
use a ship-load of flour sent from the Cape at Auch- 
muty's request. This difficulty, however, could probably 
have been overcome ; for Auchmuty had twice written 
to England for flour, on the 7th of February and 20th of 
March, so that a supply was to be expected from thence 
very shortly. 

There remained one minor point to be settled before 
the campaign was opened. Should Colonia be held as 
well as Monte Video, and converted into an advanced 
base of operations and a second fortified station upon 
the river La Plata ; or should it be abandoned ? 
Whitelocke seems to have left the determination of this 
matter to Leveson-Gower, who was sent to Colonia 
with discretionary orders to hold the place, if it could be 
safely retained with a diminished garrison, or to evacuate 
it. Auchmuty and Pack were in favour of keeping a 
garrison in Colonia since, among other advantages, it 
would have facilitated the collection of a supply of 
cattle for the army ; but they were not consulted. 1 
Leveson-Gower, after a short survey, destroyed the guns 
of the place and withdrew the troops from it to the 
main army. It seems that Whitelocke had some idea 
of transporting his main body to Colonia and keeping 
it there embarked until an advanced column should 
have occupied Reduction, and enabled Point Quilmes to 
be used as a place of disembarkation. This would have 
been a sensible plan ; but it was promptly negatived by 

Meanwhile the army was formed into four brigades 2 
under Auchmuty, Lumley, Craufurd, and Mahon ; and 
a garrison of thirteen hundred rank and file was set 

1 C.-M., pp. 198, 205. 

2 Brig.-Gen. Sir S. Auchmuty' s brigade : 5th, 38th, 87th. 
Brig.-Gen. Craufurd's brigade : 9 cos. L.I., 95th (8 cos.). 
Brig.-Gen. Lumley's brigade : 17th L.D., 36th, 88th. 

Col. Marion's brigade : 2 sq. 6th D.G., 9th L.D. (both dis- 
mounted), 40th, 45th. 



1807. apart for Monte Video, consisting of two companies of 
the Thirty-eighth, the Forty-seventh, the detachments 
of the Twentieth and Twenty-first Light Dragoons, 
some Marines and a Local Militia. Here may be seen 
the signs of an unpractical mind in the Commander-in- 
chief. The Forty-seventh, as Auchmuty had reported, 
was not in the best order, and its commander not the 
most brilliant of officers, but at least it was in condition 
for marching and had experience of active service. The 
Thirty-eighth, again, was an admirable corps ; and it 
was mere waste of good material to relegate two of its 
companies to idleness ; indeed, the proceeding was at 
the time ascribed to the Commander-in-chief's spite 
against an officer of that regiment. 1 The Twentieth 
and Twenty-first Light Dragoons had also been for some 
time in the country and were ready for work. On the 
other hand, the rank and file of the Eighty-eighth, 
though good, were very young ; and this regiment, with 
its travelling companions the Thirty-sixth and the four 
troops of Carabiniers, was certain to suffer greatly from 
fatigue after nine months on board ship. Nevertheless 
these were chosen for the attack on B*enos Ayres ; and 
the Carabiniers, encumbered with their white leather 
breeches and jack-boots, were provided with muskets to 
convert them into infantry, while the seasoned and 
hardened corps which had been for months in the 
country were left to walk about Monte Video. Lastly, 
Leveson-Gower had contrived to quarrel bitterly 
with the cavalry by ordering wholesale and quite 
unnecessary destruction of all the spare clothes and 
equipment that the regiments had in store ; 2 and 
altogether the force was not in the best of tempers when 
it started upon its campaign. 

1 This officer, Lord Muskerry, was the one person in the army 
who knew something of the country between Ensenada and Buenos 
Ayres ; and he had declared that no one but a madman would land 
at Ensenada in midwinter. Whitelocke, therefore, left two com- 
panies of his regiment at Monte Video, and put Lord Muskerry in 
command of them. Colburne's Military Magazine, October, 1836, 
p. 213. 2 C.-M., pp. 162, 165. 


Contrary winds delayed the departure of the troops 1807. 
from Monte Video ; and the first division was not under 
way until the 17th of June, nor anchored off Colonia 
until the 24th. Gower joined this corps in the evening June 24 
and hurried Pack's garrison on board its transports ; 
but fog prevented the convoy from sailing until the 26th, June 26 
when it met the remainder of the army standing up the 
river for Ensenada. On the following day the gunboats June 27 
of the fleet were each of them armed with an eighteen- 
pounder at the bows ; the Light Brigade under Craufurd 
was transferred to vessels of light draught ; and orders 
were issued verbally, but not in writing, for the troops 
to be ready to disembark on the next morning, every 
man with cooked rations for three days. Accordingly June 28 
at daylight on Sunday the 28 th of June the disem- 
barkation began. A long bar of sand obstructed the 
approach to the shore, and the Light Brigade was com- 

\ pelled to wade for some distance to reach it ; but later 
on a passage through the bar was found, which enabled 

! the rest of the troops to be landed perfectly dry. No 
resistance was made to the disembarkation which, owing 
to the narrowness of the channel of access, was not 
completed until dark ; and no sign of an enemy was 
seen. Gower had received orders to push inland, with 
an advanced corps consisting of Craufurd's brigade, 
the Thirty-eighth and Eighty-seventh, to the heights 
about four miles distant, which he duly did, arriving 
on his ground at one o'clock in the afternoon. This, 

1 it may be added, was the beginning of a general 


398 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1807. derangement of all the organisation prescribed a few- 
days before. Four of the eight companies of the 
Ninety-fifth were taken from Craufurd and transferred 
to the main body under Whitelocke; and Auchmuty 
was left disconsolate on the shore with one battalion 
only of his brigade, namely, the Fifth, which though in 
excellent order had, even as the four 1 companies of 
the Ninety-fifth, only just been released from three- 
quarters of a year on board ship. 
June 29. On the following day the main body advanced from 
the shore, and then the chapter of surprises was opened 
in earnest. Between the strand and the heights lay a 
swamp, nowhere less than two feet deep in water, which 
extended for a distance of fully two miles. Gower on 
the previous day had found what was pointed out to 
him as the usual road through it, and in attempting to 
discover a better track had several times experienced c 
the greatest difficulty in extricating his horse from the 
slough. Moreover, the foundation, being not of sand 
but of earth, grew steadily worse with the trampling of 
many feet ; and the passage was far more difficult for the 
rear of his column than it had been for the van. Into 
this sea of black liquid mud the six thousand men of 
the main body now plunged in a narrow column, and 
floundered forward, tripping over reeds and aquatic 
plants, and reeling over the treacherous bottom as best 
they could. It was trying and fatiguing work ; but all 
ranks seem to have accepted it as a good joke, and to 
have taken care by judicious splashing that no man should 
emerge in a less filthy condition than his neighbour. 
But a great deal of the food carried by the men was 
rendered uneatable by water ; the guns stuck fast ; and 
the defects of the commissariat were found out within 
an hour. 

Whitelocke had ordered his Commissary to land three 
days' rations of biscuit and spirits, which was done on 

1 Five companies of the 95th came with Craufurd. They had 
been for eleven months on board ship, and one at least of them 
must have remained with the advanced party. 

ch.xiii HISTORY OF THE ARMY 399 

the same day ; but neither General nor staff had taken 1807. 
the trouble to inform the Commissary that sixty pack- 
saddles had been brought forward to transport these 
supplies, and that, if need were, sixty men of the 
Seventeenth Light Dragoons would be dismounted to 
furnish the necessary horses. The Commissary, by no 
means in an unruffled spirit, 1 applied to Colonel Bourke, 
the Quartermaster-general, for means of carriage ; the 
pack-saddles and horses were landed on the same day ; June 30. 
and on the morrow the work of loading began. At 
once there ensued a scene of wild confusion. The 
unbroken horses not unnaturally would not endure 
the saddles, but kicked and plunged in all directions. 
Several broke away and were never seen again ; others 
dashed off with their saddles only, but without their 
load ; and, altogether, of some eight tons of biscuit 
disembarked, about one ton was forwarded to the army, 
a small quantity was re-embarked, but the greater pro- 
portion was lost or ruined in the swamp. Attempts 
to bring forward the rum in the mule -carts were 
equally fruitless. The wheels stuck fast and could 
not be moved ; and the Commissary was fain to stave 
in the casks where they lay, and to abandon their 
contents also to the all-devouring swamp. 

Meanwhile the guns, although drawn each by six 
instead of the usual team of four horses, had remained 
in the swamp until late on the 29 th, when most of them 
were extricated by some hundreds of seamen and 
soldiers. Sixteen in all had been landed, and of these 
five light pieces captured from the Spaniards were spiked 
and abandoned. Whitelocke, on joining Gower that June 29. 
morning, gave him the Thirty -sixth and Eighty - 
eighth, which had just struggled through the swamp, 
in lieu of the Thirty-eighth and Eighty-seventh. 2 He 
then sent him forward for a few miles with these regi- 
ments, added to Craufurd's brigade, four six-pounders, 

1 The bitterness of Commissary Bullock against Whitelocke can 
be read between the lines of his evidence. 

2 C.-M., pp. 168, 192. 

4 oo HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1807. two three-pounders, and a handful of mounted men of 
the Seventeenth Light Dragoons ; while the main 
body halted on the ground that Gower had occupied 
on the preceding night. Gower for his part so arranged 
his order of march that Lumley's brigade should 
always be three or four miles in rear of Craufurd's ; 
the object being that the troops should find fuel 
and, to some extent, shelter at the few farm-houses 
that lay on the route to Buenos Ayres. The enemy, 
after the first day, hovered about the columns un- 
ceasingly, not daring to attack, but pouncing constantly 
upon every isolated man ; and the mounted troops 
with the British force were so few, and grew daily so 
much fewer, owing to the collapse and escape of the 
native horses, that communication between the different 
bodies was impossible. What Leveson-Gower did in 
detail for his own division, Whitelocke, doubtless under 
his subordinate's advice, did for the whole army, with 
the result that the advanced corps led the way in two 
distinct bodies, and the main body followed likewise in 
two or three distinct corps, all without cohesion and 
without communication, and of coucge without power 
of mutual support. Strangely enough, though Popham, 
the greatest authority upon signalling in the Navy, had 
worked so long with the Army, no military officer had 
bethought him of introducing a code of visual signals 
for service in the field. 

Gower, then, plodded forward to his appointed 
place, with directions not to advance further until the 
main body should come up ; and Whitelocke, the 
swamp having been passed, gave orders for his own 
division to march at nine o'clock on the morning of 
June 30. the 30th. But now arose the awkward question of i 
victuals. Owing to the procrastination of the General 
and the faulty work of his staff", many of the troops 
had never received the order to carry three days' 
provisions with them ; owing to the march waist-deep I 
through the swamp, much that the men had with them 
had been destroyed ; and in any case the village of i 



f Reduction, where supplies could be again obtained 1807. 

a from the fleet, was still two days' march distant. J une 3°- 

J There was therefore every prospect that the force would 

i be without food for at least one day, and if overtaken 

i by any mishap, would be in a state of starvation. 

; Auchmuty imparted his anxiety upon this head to 

:1 Whitelocke who, after anathematising his chief supply- 

s officer, complained that he was obliged to do the work 

I of commissary and store-keeper as well as of General. 

- "If a General does not himself attend to the supply of 

y his troops, Sir," said Auchmuty, " they will often 

is want provisions." 

0 As it happened, a flock of sheep was discovered and 
e driven in that morning ; and Whitelocke delayed the 
it time of marching, already fixed for the late hour of 
ti nine, in order that the men might take advantage of 

1 this windfall. But there was confusion and delay in 
I the distribution. Many of the men received no 
0 meat ; none had time to cook it ; and the only real 
n advantage of the delay was, that it enabled half a 
d ration of biscuit to be served out from the scanty 
:r remnant which had been saved by the Commissary 
i, from the swamp. Then at last the army marched, 
d! leaving Mahon with a very few mounted and a 
d great many dismounted men of the Seventeenth Light 
Is Dragoons, besides four companies of the Fortieth, to 

form a rear-guard and an escort for the artillery, 
d Auchmuty's brigade led the main body, which halted 
ie at a farm a little before sunset ; and Auchmuty was 
ie then sent forward for three or four miles, according to 
nlthe fashion approved by Gower, with the Forty-fifth, 
)f Ninth Light Dragoons, Carabiniers, and four companies 
Jof the Ninety-fifth. These last two corps, it will be 
alremembered, had arrived with Craufurd, so that there 
Jwas every necessity to spare them any additional exertion. 
slBut such reasoning did not appeal to Whitelocke. He 
would dismount and march with the men, trying to 
exchange the slang of the barrack-room with them and 
receiving little response ; but he was incapable of the 

VOL. v 2D 

4Q2 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1807. incessant watchfulness over their comfort and the 
June 30. incessant care to save them unnecessary fatigue, which 
really endears a General to his troops. Had he given 
them a full ration that morning and promised them 
enough to eat on that night, the men would have known 
and trusted him to be their friend. 

On overtaking Gower in the evening, Whitelocke 
urged him to make an effort to reach Reduction that 
night. Gower promised to do his best. The marches 
had been neither long nor severe, the ground on the 
heights being firm, with the exception of some small 
but deep streams with boggy bottoms, which from time 
to time crossed the line of march and immersed the 
men waist-deep. But want of food, and still more 
want of condition, had told heavily upon Lumley's 
brigade ; and the folly of placing these unseasoned and 
immature troops in the advanced corps was now apparent. 
Whitelocke was eager to occupy Reduction in order to 
obtain supplies. If, in the first instance, he had given 
Lumley the troops which had been left behind at Monte 
Video, and if he had ordered Gower in the morning to 
make a bold push for Reduction a^any cost, Gower 
would probably have reached it without difficulty, and 
all might have been well. But starting upon a night 
march, unfed after a long halt, Lumley's brigade simply 
collapsed ; and after traversing three or four miles Gower 
halted, reporting to Whitelocke that if he went further 
he should be obliged to leave the whole of the Thirty- 
sixth and Eighty-eighth behind. Whitelocke approved 
July 1. of his action, and riding forward next morning was 
so much struck with the exhausted condition of the 
Eighty-eighth that he ordered the whole army to leave 
their blankets behind and to march on with their great- 
coats only. None the less he called upon them to 
make a great effort in order to go beyond Reduction 
towards the Chuelo, presumably with the object of 
securing the bridge. Lumley had taken the precaution 
to bring with him from Monte Video native lasso-men, 
who produced some bullocks on the morning of the 


1 1 st ; but the men had no time to cook the meat, and 1807. 
i they had received no bread, so that the young soldiers J ul y 1 
\of the Eighty-eighth started in greater exhaustion than 

ever. Gower had hoped to pass the Chuelo by a ford 
i on that day, but found it impossible ; and the advanced 
* :orps, after a march of only fifteen miles, halted three 

miles beyond Reduction. Gower reported that he believed 
jiimself to be still five miles away from the river, and 

:hat, having observed a large fire at some distance away, 
lie imagined that the bridge had been destroyed. 

Meanwhile at a little before sunset the main body 
jnoved up to the village of Reduction itself, and there 
I lalted for the night. 

At last therefore the coveted goal was reached. 
'Communication could be resumed with the fleet; but 

I here were still two miles of morass between the village 
<nd Point Quilmes over which every ounce of provisions 

3 nust be carried. Whitelocke in the course of the 
[ .vening decided to halt during the next day, with the 
E >bject at once of making a personal reconnaissance of 
: he fords of the Chuelo, of procuring bread and 
pirits from the fleet, and of allowing Mahon to bring 
k brward the artillery which was still in the rear. 

II Thereupon parties were actually directed to go down 
'! 0 Point Quilmes to bring up supplies. A rest would 
er ave been very welcome, for the troops were much 
er xhausted, not so much by the distance which they had 
!' raversed as by want of food and by unnecessary and 
e ^ ljudicious halts during the march. At 2 o'clock on 

3 he morning of the 2nd, however, Whitelocke altered July 2 
His mind and dictated a letter to Gower, ordering him 
lVi p proceed with the advanced corps, pass the Chuelo at 
at "|tie first ford which he should find practicable above 
t( ; l it bridge, take up a position on the northern 1 suburbs 
i° : f Buenos Ayres, open communication with the fleet, 
& l nd send a summons to the Spanish commander to 

ft . j 1 He called it the western side, but he meant the northern ; the 
, 'ientation of Buenos Ayres being incorrectly given in the 
ll mtemporary maps. 

4 o 4 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1807. surrender. The reason given by Whitelocke for this 
July 2. sudden change of plan was that he was anxious to put 
his troops into cantonments, a consideration which was 
perhaps pressed upon him by a heavy fall of rain 
during the night of the 1st. Bourke, his Quarter- 
master-general, protested against the decision, urging 
his extreme ignorance of the country and the necessity 
for reconnoitring the river ; but Whitelocke was 
peremptory, and Bourke rode forward with the letter 

On receipt of the order Gower showed dissatisfaction, 
and not without reason. The Thirty-sixth was much 
fatigued and the Eighty-eighth, as he alleged, not only 
exhausted but unsteady. In fact the horsemen, which 
had hovered around him throughout his march, had 
become bolder than usual on the previous day, and had 
annoyed him much during the night. Bourke advised 
him to ride back and to state his objections to White 
locke in person ; but Gower answered that he had 
received a peremptory order and should obey it, though 
he still evinced great uneasiness as to the consequences. 
Bourke promised to report his misgivings to Whitelocke 
adding that probably the advanced corps would be 
supported by the entire army, and thereupon rode back ik 
towards Reduction. Auchmuty had already approached b 
Whitelocke that morning to represent the necessity of ad 
allowing the troops to rest at least for the day, point 
ing out that his own brigade was much fatigued, and Ike 
that the advanced guard, judging by the number oi 
stragglers left by Lumley's battalions in Reduction, was 
in a still worse plight. The General replied that his 
decision would depend upon a letter from Gower 
Bourke in due time appeared and was greeted by the 
General with the question, " Well, does General Gower 
seem pleased with his orders ? " Bourke presented 
Gower's letter, the chief point of which was an intima- 
tion of his resolve to keep to the high ground and 
cross the Chuelo either by marching round its source 
or by some practicable ford high up the stream ; since jj' 


ch. xiii HISTORY OF THE ARMY 405 

by all reports the Paso Chico, which was the ford 1807. 
indicated by Whitelocke, was impracticable. Bourke July 2. 
then urged that, looking to the condition of the 
Eighty-eighth, some support should be given to the 
advanced corps, whereupon Whitelocke agreed to send 
Gower a battalion. Shortly afterwards, to the general 
astonishment, he ordered the entire army to march at 
once. Some oxen had been procured and slaughtered, 
ei|and the meat was about to be cut up and distributed ; 
but the men were commanded to leave it on the ground, 
and were not allowed to carry the pieces in their 
haversacks. Auchmuty remarked to the General that 
the troops had no provisions. " Don't you see that 
it is going to rain ? " was the only reply ; and at ten 
□'clock the starving army moved away. 

Gower, for his part, had marched an hour earlier, 
so that his rear must have been at least four miles 
ahead of the main body. By this time his force was 
seriously diminished. The Light Battalion numbered 
under nine hundred men, and the Thirty-sixth and 
Eighty-eighth were reduced, owing to the multitude 
of men unable to march, to no more than one thousand 
bayonets jointly. The mounted troopers with him, 
who had never exceeded sixty, had shrunk to a mere 
handful in consequence of the break-down of the horses ; 
and Gower was obliged to mount his two orderlies upon 
lis own spare chargers. Experience had shown that, in 
:he midst of the enemy's irregular horsemen, communi- 
cation between the different divisions of the army was 
alansafe unless ensured by a force of the strength of a 
:ompany. One of Gower 's aide-de-camps had been 
raptured while carrying his orders between the two 
idvanced brigades, and another had been stabbed 
Within three hundred yards of the line. 1 Gower had 
10 information of the enemy's dispositions, except that 
;hey had erected powerful batteries to defend the 

1 Gower to Windham, 9th July 1807. Gower, however, 
[pmitted to mention that his two brigades were habitually four or 
live miles apart. 

406 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1807. passage of the bridge on the Chuelo ; and it was pretty 2 

July 2. evident that Whitelocke intended him to turn the « 

defences of the river. But where he should discover a t 

ford, what forces he might find opposed to him as he t 

approached Buenos Ayres, and whether the main body : 

was to remain halted or follow to support him — all t 

these things were hidden from him. After a short k 

time signs of the enemy could be seen on the other Qt 

side of the Chuelo, and, after two or three hours, r 

Whitelocke's division was also visible in the rear, c: 

apparently pursuing the same route as the advanced 1: 

corps. The question of a ford by which to pass the he 

Chuelo was, however, not so easily decided. The t.. 

nearest was known as the Paso Chico, but this was k 

represented to be very difficult ; and Gower, as we oe 

have seen, had intimated to Bourke that he should a: 

seek another ford higher up the stream. Craufurd, or 

whose brigade was as usual far ahead of Lumley's, in 

after passing a brook called the Masiel, saw in his n 

front a body of the enemy's horse which retired before f 

him, and in its retirement appeared to have crossed the 1 

Chuelo. Gower therefore decided to-follow them and r: 

found the Paso Chico open to him. The water was ti 

indeed more than waist-deep for the tallest man, but a 

having a sound bottom, presented no difficulties which i: 

could not be overcome by care. Thus the principal fs 

obstacle in the way of the march to Buenos Ayres a 
was passed with ease and safety. 

Lumley's brigade reached the ford between two and 1 

three o'clock, just as Craufurd's left it. His two |j 

regiments were in a miserable state. The men had & 

shewn signs of exhaustion very shortly after they j (j 

marched, and soon they were straggling in all directions, ] 

unable to keep up ; yet even so Gower assigned to i: 

them the heavy work of taking four guns across the t 

ford. Craufurd presently observing a body of the r 

enemy in motion as if to take up a position upon the t 

heights opposite the ford, asked Gower's permission to j 

forestall them. He received for answer that he might j ; 

ch.xiii HISTORY OF THE ARMY 407 



go on and act as he thought best, and that Gower 1807. 
would support him with Lumley's brigade. Craufurd J ul y 2 
advanced accordingly, gained the heights unopposed, 
and marking signs of wavering in the enemy, decided 
to take advantage of their hesitation and move straight 
upon the town. Twice Gower sent him orders to halt, 
but Craufurd answered that in his opinion it was very 
desirable to proceed ; and proceed he did. He had 
arrived at a house, known to those concerned in the 
operations as White's house, about a mile outside the 
town on the west side, when Gower came in person to the 
head of the Light Brigade. The ground was extremely 
blind and intricate, covered with gardens, orchards, and 
high fences, so that the enemy, though suspected to be 
near at hand, was invisible. The brigade entered the 
Id I angle of a large space, which was in fact the Corral 
djor slaughter-yard of Buenos Ayres, and halted to allow 
sjits few field-pieces to come up. Many of the men 
lis were resting themselves by leaning against the house, 
re when suddenly they were startled by the report of a 
ie| single gun, followed by a heavy discharge of grape and 
id I round shot from all parts of the yard. For a moment 
as I the troops huddled themselves together. Gower spoke 
a few words to Craufurd, who, whatever their intent, 
interpreted them as an order to attack ; and the Light 
Brigade rushed forward with a cheer, in the form of 
a crescent, straight upon the guns. The Spaniards in 
dismay left their batteries and fled. Their infantry, 
which was lining the hedges, fled likewise, and the 
brigade pursued them hotly into the town, bayonetting 
several of the fugitives, until an order arrived from 
Gower, directing Craufurd to return to the Corral. 
The Brigadier answered by a message that he thought 
it would be advantageous to continue the pursuit into 
the town, and begged permission to do so. Gower 
replied by a second and peremptory order to return to 
the Corral, adding that the wounded men, who did not 
exceed forty, were liable to be cut ofT by straggling 
parties of the enemy. Reluctantly Craufurd obeyed. 

408 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1807. Craufurd himself was of opinion that if he had been 
July 2. left alone he would have captured the town then and there. 
The enemy was in fact completely surprised. Their 
leaders had in the first place massed nine thousand men 
with over fifty guns to guard the bridge over the 
Chuelo, but, finding that Gower was avoiding the bridge, 
had sent about three thousand men to hold a ford below 
the Paso Chico, and a second column to observe the 
Paso Chico itself. Upon discovering that the British 
had crossed the river, the first column, led by General 
Liniers in person, was ordered to retire to the Corral, 
where it was routed by Craufurd ; the second, afraid 
of being cut off, took a circuitous route to the south- 
western angle of the town ; and the remainder, which 
had been left at the bridge, were subsequently called in, 
after spiking or destroying several guns which they 
were unable to bring away with them. Moreover, any 
preparations which had been made for defence of the 
town had been designed to meet an attack upon the 
northern face. From this it is evident that White- 
locke's plans were known to the Spaniards ; for it will 
be remembered that he had given -Gower orders to 
occupy the northern suburbs, intending himself to 
march round the northern side of the town and resume 
his communication with the fleet. Gower, however, 
was not without justification for his caution, quite apart 
from his rather absurd plea concerning the wounded 
men ; for Lumley's brigade, which should have been 
close at hand, had vanished and was nowhere to be 

Very soon after crossing the ford Lumley lost sight of 
the Light Brigade, and was obliged to follow it as best he 
could by conjecture. The men were lagging terribly, 
and, when the sound of firing was heard, they were 
unable to respond to their Brigadier's appeal to hurry 
on. Many dropped down on the road ; and Lumley, 
seeing that he must leave half of his force behind him, 
hardened his heart and pushed on with as many men 
as could keep up. For a time he guided himself by the 

ch.xiii HISTORY OF THE ARMY 409 

footprints of Craufurd's companies and by the sound of 1807. 

the firing ; but the light began to fail, and presently he J ul y 2 - 
i lost all trace of them. For an hour he wandered 
n about, without an idea where to find his comrades, 
e until, growing apprehensive of the danger that might 
i await a crowd of weary men in a maze of narrow lanes, 
ff he wheeled his two regiments northward and by good 
e fortune stumbled upon Craufurd's brigade just as it was 
li about to retire. He then left outposts on the ground 
1! which Craufurd had occupied, and withdrew with him 
1, to the Corral, where both brigades bivouacked for 
d the night. 

But the disappearance of Lumley's brigade affected 
h Gower far less than the fact that there was no sign 
i, of the main body of the army. Considering that he 
j stood upon not the best of terms with Whitelocke, it 
j is likely enough that Gower imputed to his chief that 
e night a deliberate design to entangle him in difficulties, 
e The suspicion was doubtless undeserved, though circum- 
• stances might seem to colour it. Whitelocke had 
I duly marched at ten o'clock ; he had sent a message to 
0 the Admiral to take the fleet as close as he could to the 

0 northern end of the town ; and he had despatched 
e orders to Mahon, who was on his way to Reduction, to 
ij follow him early on the next day. His guide had told 

1 him that he would find a good ford over the Chuelo six 
4 miles to south-westward, and had provided him with a 
n peasant to show him the way, so that he felt easy and 
e confident. Towards noon Gower's column was in sight 

about three miles away, moving in a direction at right 
angles to the march of the main body ; but the guide, 
being consulted, declared that Whitelocke's column 
would take the same direction as soon as it had crossed 
the Masiel, and indicated the landmarks which showed 
the position of the ford. Whitelocke's troops accord- 
ingly passed the Masiel, and arrived between half-past 
two and three at two farm-houses. The advanced 
column was now out of sight. Whitelocke afterwards 
1 explained that, reckoning upon Gower's avoidance of 



1807. the Paso Chico, he had made sure of overtaking the 
July 2. rear of his column ; but that, having lost all trace of 
it and seeing no possibility of crossing the river that 
night, he turned to his Quartermaster -general and 
proposed to halt where he stood for the day. Bourke 
demurred, stating that unless orders were sent to 
Gower to halt also, the advanced corps would certainly 
proceed, pursuant to its instructions, to the northern 
suburbs of Buenos Ayres. Whitelocke hesitated and, 
as soon as Auchmuty came up, referred the question 
to him. Auchmuty, who wished to give his men 
food and rest, and for that reason had opposed the 
march of the morning, strongly advised a halt, pointing 
out that there were plenty of sheep close by and fuel 
wherewith to cook the meat. He was, it should be 
added, under the impression, which seems to have been 
shared by the army generally, that Gower's mission 
extended no further than to win the passage of the 
Chuelo ; 1 and he knew nothing of Colonel Bourke's 
protest against leaving him unsupported. Whitelocke 
therefore sent a message back to Mahon, directing 
him to remain with the rear-guard a* Reduction, and 
halted for the day. Towards evening he heard the 
sound of a cannonade near the city, but took no 
notice of it ; and the army, which had been 
exhausted rather by bad management than by hard 
work, was left to enjoy the comforts of an early halt 
and a sufficiency of meat and fuel. 
July 3. A little before daybreak on the 3rd Whitelocke's 
division moved off, and reached a safe but exceedingly 
narrow ford over the Chuelo between nine and ten 
o'clock. The water being armpit- deep, it was one 
o'clock before every man had made the passage ; but a 
mile and a half beyond the ford an officer from Gower 
met Whitelocke ; and in another hour the entire force, 
with the exception of Mahon's detachment, was united 
on the west side of the town. Gower, in the morning, 
had sent a summons to Liniers to surrender Buenos 
1 C.-M., p. 202. 



Ayres, which had been defiantly rejected ; and the 1807. 
British outposts had been engaged for most of the day, July 3 
though with no incidents of any importance. It was 
true that the advanced corps had not taken up its 
position in the northern suburbs, as Whitelocke had 
directed, in order to open communication with the 
fleet ; but it was too late to correct this fault at so late 
an hour of the afternoon. Rain fell in torrents as soon 
as the main body came in ; and Whitelocke simply- 
aligned his troops upon Gower's, further directing the 
whole line to fall back in rear of the Corral, in the hope 
of drawing the enemy, who had never ceased firing at the 
picquets, into the open ground. The movement, how- 
ever, failed of its object, and the troops took shelter in 
houses for the night, receiving rations both of bread 
and liquor, which Gower had collected in the suburbs. 

In the evening Whitelocke asked Gower whether, 
having been in the suburbs for twenty-four hours, he 
had thought of any design for the attack of the town. 
Gower answered in the affirmative, and produced his 
plan; whereupon, after further consideration, Whitelocke 
decided to abandon his own idea of attack and adopt 
that of his subordinate. The officers commanding 
regiments and brigades were accordingly summoned 
to headquarters at nine the next morning, where July 4 
Gower was ready to expound his scheme to them. It 
was abundantly simple. The army was to enter the 
town in thirteen different columns along as many 
different streets. One of these was to seize the Plaza 
de Toros, a fairly commanding position at the north- 
east angle of the city ; the remainder were to push on 
to the last row of houses overlooking the river, capture 
them, and form up on the roofs. After this explanation 
Whitelocke dismissed all but the Brigadiers, and 
announced his intention of attacking at noon. Auch- 
muty, who had arrived late at the conference, remarked 
that his officers were wholly unacquainted with the in- 
tended attack, that they would hardly have time to 
examine their ground in order to make the necessary 

4 i2 HISTORY OF THE ARMY bookxiii 

1807. arrangements, and that broad noon was not the best 
July 4. time for a hostile advance into a populous city. Gower 
concurred in this reasoning, and the attack was deferred 
until daylight of the following morning. It does not 
appear that any of the officers present brought forward 
any objection to the plan, though Colonel Pack, who 
by reason of his acquaintance with the town of Buenos 
Ayres was admitted to the conference of Generals, 
hinted at strong disapprobation of it. Whitelocke, 
however, evaded further discussion with him ; and 
Pack said no more, though he noted that the 
Commander-in-chief had the air of a man who was 
acting against his better judgment. 1 

Pack had guessed aright. Upon his first arrival at 
Monte Video Whitelocke had pointed out to Craufurd 
the peculiar construction of the houses, their flat roofs 
surrounded by parapets, and other circumstances which 
adapted them admirably for purposes of defence. He 
had added that he would never expose his troops to so 
unfair a trial as a fight in the streets of a large town 
like Buenos Ayres, composed entirely of such houses ; 
and Craufurd had heartily agreed with«tiim. So strong 
indeed was the General's feeling upon the subject that 
he seems to have set down his opinions in writing, with 
a corollary that such a mode of attack as he had just 
accepted from Gower would not be resorted to, even 
under more favourable conditions than the present. 
Moreover, his own plan was known, in general terms, 
to be that he should rest the left of his army upon the 
La Plata, land his heavy guns, and in conjunction with 
the gunboats of the fleet batter the town till it sur- 
rendered. The reasons which he alleged for the 
necessity of an immediate assault were the fatigue of 
the troops, the inclemency of the weather, and the want 
of provisions. 2 The difficulty of feeding his army was 
in fact the source of all his troubles during his brief 
campaign ; and it is evident that, whether through 
incapacity or neglect, he had never set himself from 
1 C.-M., p. 410. 2 Ibid. p. 170. 

ch.xiii HISTORY OF THE ARMY 413 

the first to grapple with it. With a general sense of 1807. 
his own incompetence and of the awkward situation in J ul y 4- 
which it had placed him, he appealed to Gower on the 
afternoon of the 4th to testify to the soundness of his 
orders and dispositions throughout. Gower pleaded 
the inability of an inferior officer to judge of the 
acts of his superior, whereupon Whitelocke declared 
that he regarded his second in command as an 
avowed enemy and would supersede him in his appoint- 

Meanwhile the Quartermaster-general in the course 
of the afternoon endeavoured to point out to the 
Brigadiers the streets which were to be followed by the 
troops of each brigade. He found the task to be no 
easy one. Gower had made all his dispositions in 
reliance upon a Spanish map of the city, but this was 
found to differ considerably from the actual conforma- 
tion of the ground ; and Bourke reported to Gower 
that the columns could not be placed as he wished and 
expected. He indicated further that if the troops 
advanced, as Gower had ordered, from west to east 
direct upon the river, the enemy would probably retire 
into the streets north and south, close in upon the 
columns, and cut them off from any support outside 
the town. Gower made light of these objections ; and 
the plan was left unaltered. Efforts were made to 
collect crowbars and other tools to break in the 
doors of houses that might be barricaded ; and a few, 
though not nearly sufficient, were brought together and 
distributed chiefly to Craufurd's brigade. The reason 
for this allotment of the tools will be made clear by a 
detailed account of Gower's dispositions. 

The town of Buenos Ayres was laid out in regular 
rectangular blocks, each about one hundred and thirty 
yards square, its eastern face abutting upon the river. 
It measured, roughly speaking, about two miles from 
north to south by one mile from east to west, the 
ground sloping gently upwards from the river inland, 
so that the Corral, upon which the British army was 



1807. encamped, overlooked the whole of the buildings down 
July 4. t0 tne water's edge. As was natural, the principal 
edifices were all close to the shore ; the fort forming 
the centre of those along the eastern front. This was 
described as a "square work of about one hundred 
paces on the exterior polygon, and flanked with small 
bastions/' The walls were about fifteen feet high 
from the level of the interior to the top of the parapet, 
which rose not more than four feet above the rampart, 
the guns being mounted en barbette upon field-carriages ; 
and there was no ditch except on the side that faced 
the town. It was commanded, as Beresford had dis- 
covered to his cost, by several houses in the vicinity, 
and altogether was wholly insignificant. Its western 
face abutted on the Plaza Mayor, or Great Square, the 
scene of Beresford's unsuccessful defence, divided, as 
will be remembered, by an arcade, with a parapetted 
roof. On the north-western face of the square stood 
the Cathedral, with a lofty dome and parapet. Nearly 
a mile to northward of the Great Square lay another 
and more important open space, situated on rising 
ground close to the river at the northeastern angle of 
the town. This was the Plaza de Toros, in which 
stood the amphitheatre for the exhibition of bull-fights, 
with the artillery-barracks and arsenal lying beyond it. 
It was separated from the town by a little ravine, of 
which it occupied the higher side. Below it towards 
the river there was a flat unoccupied space, where an 
enclosed battery had lately been erected to flank any 
approach to the eastern face of the town along the 
beach. Southward of the Great Square, and four 
blocks distant from it, was another small open space, 
having on the west side the convent of St. Domingo, 
the largest ecclesiastical building in Buenos Ayres next 
to the Cathedral. Yet further south, almost at the 
south-eastern angle of the town, stood a large building, 
originally designed for a royal hospital, called the 
Residencia, standing within an irregular quadrilateral 
space of which one-third was open and the rest 


occupied by buildings. This space was enclosed partly 1807. 
by the buildings themselves, which presented a lofty J ul y 4- 
blind wall to the streets on both sides, partly by a 
slighter wall some ten feet high ; and the Residencia 
as a whole offered the advantage that its roof was 
not commanded by the top of any adjacent houses. 
It stood back about two or three hundred yards from 
the river ; and if this building, the fort, and the 
Plaza de Toros were occupied, there was free communi- 
cation between them, unimpeded by any houses along 
the shore. On the other hand, in advancing from 
west to east the troops would descend steadily from 
higher to lower ground ; and all the loftiest buildings 
in the town stood at the eastern extremity near the 

The dispositions for the attack were as follows. On 
the left or northern side Auchmuty was to detach the 
Thirty-eighth, complete, to seize the Plaza de Toros 
with the ground adjacent to it, and there to take post. 
Next to the Thirty -eighth, in succession came the 
Eighty-seventh, the Fifth, the Thirty-sixth, and Eighty- 
eighth ; which, each of them divided into two wings, 
were appointed to advance down eight parallel streets to 
southward of the Thirty-eighth. Auchmuty accom- 
panied the right wing of the Eighty-seventh ; Lumley 
the right wing of the Thirty-sixth. Next to these 
came the Eighty-eighth in two wings, this battalion 
forming the extreme right of the left attack. The four 
central streets were left vacant, 1 except that the street 
which ran directly from Whitelocke's headquarters to 
the fort was to be occupied, but not traversed, by the 
Carabiniers with two guns, who were to make a false 
attack. 2 The first street to southward of the four 
central streets was assigned to a part of the Light 
Brigade under Pack, the second to the remainder of 
that brigade under Craufurd, each column taking with 
it one three-pounder. The two wings of the Forty- 
fifth were to move parallel with them down the two 
1 C.-M., p. 550. 2 Ibid. p. 77. 



1807. next streets. The whole were to march to the last 


4- square of houses on the river, as has been said, and to |r 
form on the tops of the buildings. 1 If any failed to j 
penetrate so far, they were to lodge themselves at the L 
furthest point to which they were able to advance. As 
a general instruction, it was ordained that in all cases of 
doubt the detachments were to incline outwards ; that 1 
is to say, Auchmuty's and Lumley's brigades, which f . 
formed the left wing, were to bear to their left, the I 
remainder, which formed the right wing, to their right ; I 
but the command to this effect was conveyed in cc 
language so loose and obscure that Craufurd's staff- 
officer, in making his transcript of the orders, very 
pardonably omitted it. 2 This initial mistake augured 
no good for the success of the attack. 

1 In the plan I have attempted, as I trust with success, to show 
the street traversed by each party of troops, by the light not of c 
Gower's orders but of sundry hints which appear in the evidence 
given at Whitelocke's court-martial. But the task has been one of 
great difficulty. 

2 The order ran thus : — " Each officer commanding a division 
of the left wing, which is from the 88th to the 87th inclusively, to " 
take care that he does not incline to his rigitf of the right wing, p 
that is Light Brigade and 45 th to the left." The order is printed jj 
thus both in Military Transactions and in the Minutes of the Court- 
Martial, and as it stands is mere gibberish. If it be punctuated as 
follows : — " Each officer commanding a division of the left wing, 
which is from the 88th to the 87th inclusively, to take care that 
he does not incline to his right ; of the right wing, that is Light 
Brigade and 45th, to the left," it can, by considerable effort, be 
construed into sense. Its true meaning, judging by Whitelocke's 
defence, is that which I have given in the text, viz. the columns of 
the left wing if they could not follow the streets assigned to them, 
were to bear to their left ; the columns of the right wing, namely, 
the Light Brigade and 45th, in the like case were to bear to their 
right ; and the reason was that, by converging on the centre, they 
might come under the fire of the guns in charge of the Carabiniers. 1 
Strangely enough, no member of the court-martial seems to have \ 
taken exception to the wording of this ridiculous clause, so it is j 
possible that the orders were written in two parallel lines, and the ^ 
missing verbs and particles filled up by the words ditto ditto, etc. 
The credit for the discovery that this clause was not transcribed 
by Craufurd's staff-officer belongs to Capt. Lewis Butler, U. S. 
Magazine, Aug. 1905. 

ch. xiii HISTORY OF THE ARMY 417 

Meanwhile the enemy had recovered themselves and 1807 
made every preparation for a stubborn defence ; for 
the Spaniards, as they had proved at Numantia and 
were shortly to prove again at Saragoza, are never so 
formidable as in street fighting. On the evening of 
the 2nd their troops had been utterly demoralised. 
Their leader Liniers was missing, and for some time he 
was actually within the line of the British outposts, his 
retreat having been intercepted by the rapid advance of 
the Light Brigade. He escaped, however, in the 
course of the night, and taking advantage of White- 
locke's inactivity on the 3rd, vigorously incited the 
people to resistance. Cannon were stationed at the 
outlets of the streets whose westward end was held by 
the British, and additional ordnance was brought to the 
fort to cover the approach by river. Trenches were 
ut in the principal streets near the Great Square, and 
guns were placed to flank them. The houses were 
stoutly barricaded and provided with every description 
of missile to be hurled upon the British columns. The 
:lergy had used all their influence and oratory to rouse 
patriotic enthusiasm ; and every soul, men, women, and 
hildren, was ready to play his part, the very slaves 
Deing armed with rude pikes. In all, the defenders 
seem to have consisted of some nine thousand men, 
•egulars, militia, and volunteers, with more or less of 
iiscipline and organisation, and some six thousand 
Dthers in irregular but not leaderless groups. Of these 
ibout five thousand, including all the best marksmen, 
occupied the houses, with a store of provisions and an 
imple supply of ammunition ; about two thousand 
nore occupied the Bull-ring and its neighbourhood, 
vhile others were distributed in and about the fort to 
)e employed as circumstances should require. The 
est of the population seconded them as best they could, 
vhich they might do effectively in a city where every 
louse was a fortress. 

Before dawn on the 5th the British troops took up July 5 
heir positions for the attack, in all about forty-five 
vol. v 2 E 

4 i 8 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xm 

1807. hundred bayonets. 1 Mahon's detachment was still in 
J ul 7 5- Reduction ; scores and indeed hundreds of exhausted 
soldiers had also been left there ; and, through foolish 
and unnecessary exposure of the men at the advanced 
posts during some sharp skirmishing on the 4th, a good 
many, both officers and privates, had fallen. Punctually 
at half-past six the firing of a cannon gave the signal 
to advance, and the columns entered their appointed 
streets. Every British officer noticed the deathlike 
stillness of the town, for the very dogs in the houses 
had been tied up ; and it was not until the columns 
had advanced for some distance that any of them 
met with opposition. But, as Whitelocke had decreed 
that his army should be divided into tiny isolated detach- 
ments, it will be necessary to follow the fortunes of 
each one of them separately. 

Auchmuty on the left with the two wings of the 
Eighty-seventh was the first to come into action. He 
had advanced for more than a mile without meeting the 
slightest resistance, when suddenly two guns opened a 
destructive fire of grape directly before his front. The 
regiment pushed on, and presently the cannonade was 
supplemented by a heavy fire of musketry upon his left 
front. The head of the right wing came to a halt ; 
the rear loaded and began to fire wildly ; and soon the 
whole of the column wavered and ran back. The 
Colonel, Sir Edward Butler, and the officers rallied 
the men ; and Auchmuty ordered them to break into 
a garden on his right, in order to find a way into the next 
street to southward. They succeeded in doing so, and 
discovering a deep water-course in the centre of the street, 
which sheltered them from the fire, followed it down to 

1 Returns from Milit. Trans. 


Light Brigade 

1st . 



1 160 

5680 r. and f. 

But of these 1100 men were 
held in reserve, 600 of them to 
act if need were, and the re- 
mainder to guard the sick and 
prisoners. The force which 
penetrated into the town was 
about 4500 bayonets, say 5000 
of all ranks. C.-M., p. 504. 

ch. xiii HISTORY OF THE ARMY 419 

the river, where Auchmuty occupied a large house and 1807. 
collected the remains of his column. The left wing July 5. 
of the Eighty -seventh presently joined him, having 
suffered as severely as the right, and having been like- 
wise driven out of its course. In spite of its temporary 
unsteadiness the Eighty-seventh had done well, having 
killed several of the enemy, and captured about one 
hundred prisoners and three guns. 

There then Auchmuty waited, learning to his 
surprise that the fire of musketry which had checked 
his advance had issued from the Plaza de Toros which, 
according to the map given him by Gower, ought to 
have been three streets to his left instead of directly to 
his front. But meanwhile the Fifth Foot, next to south- 
ward of him, had also advanced. The right wing 
reached the banks of the river at a quarter past seven 
without encountering the slightest opposition, hoisted 
the King's colours on the top of a house, and occupied 
a neighbouring church. The left wing under Major 
King charged bayonets as soon as it entered the town, 
moved rapidly down the street and came upon four 
Spanish guns retiring from its left. The Spanish 
gunners promptly shot their teams, spiked the cannon 
and ran away, leaving King to pursue his path to the 
river unmolested. Arrived there, the Major took 
possession of a house, and displayed the regimental 
colours on the roof, which assured Auchmuty that his 
eastern flank was safe. Very soon, however, a galling 
fire was opened from the Plaza de Toros, which com- 
manded the house that King occupied ; but he main- 
tained his position until, between half-past nine and ten 
o'clock, the firing from the Plaza ceased. 

There was indeed good reason why it should cease. 
On the extreme left the Thirty-eighth under Colonel 
Nugent, after about twenty minutes' march, found itself 
in a narrow lane leading to the Plaza de Toros, at the 
head of which was a large house occupied by the enemy. 
The lane was so deep in mire that many both of the 
officers and the men had their shoes drawn off their 



1807. feet ; but the regiment hurried on, leaving a party to 
J ul y 5- force the doors of the house, and found itself exposed to 
a concentric fire of artillery from several guns stationed 
at different points in the open ground round the Bull- 
ring. The Ring itself, a brick building of twelve sides, 
presented nothing but a blank wall with a gallery above, 
from which the Spanish sharp-shooters could fire without 
danger to themselves. Nugent, after losing several men 
in a vain attempt to storm the batteries, withdrew his 
battalion and sent two companies round to his left to 
occupy a house on the cliff by the enemy's extreme 
right, in the hope of turning their flank. The house 
at the end of the lane was first forced, and a single 
grenadier of the Thirty- eighth, one of the worst 
characters in the regiment, dashed in by himself and 
made his way straight to the roof. There he en- 
countered fifteen men, of whom he bayonetted two 
instantly ; whereupon several of the rest feigned death, 
but a group of four retired into a corner to make a 
concerted attack upon him. Still single-handed, he 
rushed at these, bayonetted one, and had driven another 
to leap from the house, when his comrades arrived and 
made a speedy end of the survivors. Shortly after- 
wards the second house by the cliff was forced, and the 
British opened a galling fire from the roof upon the 
enemy's gunners. These presently spiked their guns 
and retreated into the Bull-ring ; but there remained 
still a closed battery to be dealt with, and this was 
captured by a sudden and unexpected rush of the 
Thirty-eighth from the back door of the house. The 
gunners, some sixty in number, unable to reach the 
Bull-ring, took refuge in a barrack, but were so closely 
pursued that the British entered with them, and after a 
short but savage encounter in the barrack-rooms, put 
every one of the sixty to death. 1 The rest of the 
Thirty-eighth meanwhile seized the guns, and finding 
a twelve-pounder unspiked, turned it upon the Bull- 
ring. At this stage Auchmuty appeared on the scene 
1 Colburne's Military Magazine, Dec. 1836. 



with some of the Eighty-seventh, and surrounded the 1807. 
building completely. After a few shots, parties of the July 5. 
enemy came rushing out, only to find their retreat cut 
off ; and presently those that remained in the building 
hung out the white flag and surrendered at discretion. 

So far, then, all had gone fairly well on the northern 
side, in spite of Gower's hasty dispositions. It seems 
certain that both the Thirty-eighth and the Eighty- 
seventh, though carefully following Gower's orders, 
went where he had no intention that they should go ; 
but at any rate the Plaza de Toros, the most com- 
manding position in the city, had been taken ; and 
Auchmuty had also captured about a thousand prisoners 
and thirty-two guns. On the other hand, the Thirty- 
eighth and Eighty-seventh had suffered so severely that 
Auchmuty dared not reckon his brigade that night above 
the strength of twelve hundred men. The Eighty- 
seventh alone, out of fewer than seven hundred of all 
ranks, had lost fourteen officers and one hundred and 
seventy-one men killed and wounded. 

To southward of Auchmuty, Lumley 's brigade of the 
Thirty-sixth and Eighty-eighth was more hardly tried. 
The Thirty-sixth took the two streets next adjoining 
those traversed by the Fifth, Lumley himself accom- 
panying the right half-battalion. The roads had been 
broken up, which made progress slow ; and firing 
began from various directions upon the columns almost 
as soon as they entered the town. None the less the 
regiment penetrated to the cross-street next adjoining 
the river, and forcing open some houses in the last 
two blocks to eastward, hoisted its colours upon a tall 
building that overlooked the beach. The enemy 
in the fort and in the Great Square thereupon opened 
fire from seven guns, with great precision, upon 
the house whereon the colours were flying, at the same 
time sweeping the cross-streets with showers of grape. 
Simultaneously a hail of bullets poured upon the 
Thirty-sixth from marksmen concealed behind the 
parapets of adjoining houses ; and Lumley, though he 



1807. could maintain his position, was absolutely powerless to 
J ul y 5- do more. The Eighty-eighth fared even worse. The 
left-hand column under Major Vandeleur had not 
marched one-third of the distance to the beach when 
fire was opened upon it from windows and house-tops 
on every side. Vandeleur ordered his men to advance 
at the double, which they did with cheers, under an 
increasing shower of musketry, hand-grenades, stink- 
pots, brickbats, and every description of missile. Two 
guns opened upon them from the bottom of the street, 
and two more enfiladed them from the Great Square, as 
they passed by the cross-streets which led into it ; but 
none the less the men pressed on to the very end of the 
road, scrambled over a breastwork of sand-bags and a 
ditch beyond it, and found to their dismay that they 
were in a trap. There was no outlet from the street to 
the beach but by a narrow ramp, which was enfiladed 
by the guns of the fort at a range of two hundred 
yards. Vandeleur with great difficulty forced his way 
into the nearest house, but found it impossible to 
occupy the roof, because every man was at once shot 
down. He tried next to hold another house over 
against the first ; but his men were immediately driven 
from the roof by the guns of the fort. The hours 
passed away without a sign of support from any side ; 
and at a quarter past eleven Vandeleur, having lost 
great numbers of his men killed or wounded, hoisted 
the white flag, and was escorted with his few surviving 
soldiers into the fort. 

The right wing of the Eighty-eighth, under Colonel 
DufF, was so weak when it paraded for the attack that 
the commanding officer left the colours behind and sent 
a message to request that two companies, which were 
detained at headquarters, might be allowed to join him. 
The companies arrived in due time with their muskets 
unfit for service. General Gower having directed the 
flints to be removed. There was some delay while 
spare flints were collecting from such men as could give 
them ; and the right half-battalion then advanced to a 

ch.xiii HISTORY OF THE ARMY 423 

church which had been pointed out to Duff by Lumley 1807. 
as his objective — apparently the church of La Merced J ul y 5 
in the second block of buildings westward from the 
beach. Strangely enough not a shot was discharged 
at the column until it reached the gateway of this 
building, when a tremendous fire of musketry was poured 
upon it from the adjacent houses. The door of the 
church was strongly barricaded ; it was found im- 
possible to break it down ; and Duff, after losing many 
men, was fain to abandon the attempt and plunge 
further into the city towards the citadel. The firing 
pursued him wherever he went, and finding that half 
of his men had fallen, he turned back, took possession 
of three houses, and formed on the roof such soldiers 
as were left to him. Here he held out for some hours, 
but his men dropped fast under the enemy's fire ; and 
at a quarter before noon, seeing no prospect of support 
from any side, he too hoisted the white flag and was 
escorted into the citadel. 

Here he met Vandeleur, his companion in mis- 
fortune, who had surrendered half an hour earlier. 
Duff's battalion had gone into action about five hundred 
strong, and had lost fifteen officers and one hundred 
and eighty-three men killed and wounded. A few 
men of the Eighty -eighth escaped over the house- 
tops and reported to Lumley the disaster which 
had overtaken their regiment ; but the Spaniards 
had already revealed the fact by turning all their 
strength against the Thirty-sixth. Twice they sum- 
moned Lumley to surrender, and twice he refused ; 
whereupon they brought forward their guns on the 
beach, escorted by some seven hundred men, in order 
I to shatter the houses held by the British to pieces 
1 about their ears. It was a rash movement. Colonel 
Burne of the Thirty-sixth with fifty men flew at this 
escort at once, drove it headlong before him under the 
walls of the fort, spiked the guns, and hurried his 
gallant little party under shelter of a wall before the 
j cannon of the fort could open upon them. Meanwhile, 



1807. one of Lumley's officers had contrived to make his 
July 5. wa y to Auchmuty, and to send back a message from 
that General, recommending that the Thirty -sixth 
should join him at the Plaza de Toros. Lumley 
answered by a request for support ; but his message 
never reached its destination. However, at two o'clock 
the Brigadier collected his men, including a party of the 
Fifth which had opened communication with him, and 
retiring along the beach under a heavy fire from the 
fort, joined Auchmuty, not without some additional 
loss, before three o'clock. His brigade had been 
sacrificed to no purpose whatsoever. 

Such were the fortunes of the left wing, to north- 
ward of the four central streets : it remains now to 
follow those of the right wing to south of them. On 
the extreme right, the Forty-fifth advanced in two 
columns, the right under Colonel Guard, the left under 
Major Nichols, upon the Residencia, which had 
been prescribed by word of mouth as the object of its 
attack. This was evidently a verbal variation from the 
written orders ; and the result was that the Forty-fifth 
moved by two streets a long way to soufck of those origin- 
ally assigned to them. The place was reached, taken, 
and occupied with trifling loss within an hour ; and 
thus a very strong position on the south-eastern flank of 
the city was secured, assuring easy communication with 
the fleet. Some distance to the left of Nichols, the 
Light Brigade moved ofF in two columns ; the left 
column consisting of four companies of the Ninety- 
fifth and five light companies — in all about six hundred 
bayonets — under the independent command of Colonel 
Pack ; the right column of four more companies 
of the Ninety-fifth and four light companies, under 
the personal direction of Craufurd. Both columns 
passed through the town to the beach unmolested 
except by a few cannon-shot from the Great Square ; 
and Craufurd, finding the fort to be within five hundred 
yards of him, determined to advance upon it by the 
beach, sending orders to Guard to follow him with the 



Forty -fifth in support. No intimation, it must be 1807. 
observed, had been given to Craufurd that Guard wasJ ul Y 5- 
to occupy the Residencia, nor had any hint of this 
intention appeared in general orders. 

Meanwhile Pack, having divided his column into 
two and given the command of half of it to Colonel 
Cadogan, turned northward, along two parallel streets, 
two blocks apart, conceiving, as had Craufurd, that the 
Great Square and the fort were the points where he was 
intended to attack. This movement brought him near 
the Franciscan Church, where in a moment half of his 
men were struck down, and he himself was wounded by 
the fire of an invisible enemy. Hastily retreating to the 
street along which he had originally advanced, he found 
Cadogan's party also retiring, having suffered the like 
maltreatment. Cadogan had led his men with little 
loss to the gateway of the Jesuits' College, when every 
man of his leading company and every horse and man 
attached to his single field-gun had been in an instant 
shot down. About half of his men had followed him 
into one house ; the rest had dispersed themselves to 
seek shelter wherever they could find an open door. 
Cadogan himself was in great distress, declaring that 
he and his men had done their duty, but that success 
was impossible. 

Profoundly impressed with the hopelessness of the 
enterprise, Pack made known to. Cadogan his intention 
of withdrawing to the Residencia. Cadogan deprecated 
this idea ; and Pack agreed to stay where he was until 
he should see Craufurd. That General soon appeared 
at the back of the Convent of St. Domingo, and 
was presently joined by Guard, who had come with his 
grenadier-company from the Residencia to open com- 
munication with the Light Brigade. Pack urged upon 
Craufurd the impracticability of the task entrusted to him, 
and pressed him strongly to retire to the Residencia. 
Craufurd hesitated, representing the expediency of 
occupying the Convent of St. Domingo ; and Pack 
reluctantly gave way. The door of the convent was 

426 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1807. blown open by the second field-gun attached to the ;. 
J ul Y 5- Light Brigade ; the building was occupied ; and the I 
captured colours of the Seventy - first, being found I 
within, were hoisted above it. No sooner did the r 
British troops appear on the roof than a considerable i 
fire was opened upon them from the adjoining houses ; 0: 
but there was no reason for anxiety until noon, when a 1 
Spanish officer appeared with a flag of truce. Not t 
doubting but that the messenger bore a proposal from ai 
Liniers to capitulate, Craufurd was staggered when he t 
was met on the contrary by the news that the Eighty- G 
eighth had surrendered, and that Liniers called upon ir 
him also to surrender. Craufurd dismissed the flag a: 
at once with a curt refusal ; but, shortly afterwards, a a 
large body of the enemy marched into the street by c 
the entrance to the convent and prepared to seize the c 
field-gun, which, being too wide to be brought into the [ 
building, had been left outside. Then realising how t 
critical was his position, Craufurd hauled down the r 
colours which he had hoisted, and made ready to retire 
to the Residencia. Guard with his grenadier-company 
made a rush at the gun, and swept -away the hostile 1 
column which threatened it ; but in three minutes I 
forty of his men were killed or wounded by the fire 
from the adjacent houses ; and Craufurd, seeing that 1 
the evacuation of the convent was impossible, ordered i 
the men back to their posts and resumed the defence. 
Presently all firing ceased except in his own immediate 
neighbourhood, which sign he interpreted to mean that 
the attack had failed at all points ; and at half past 
three, judging that assistance or relief was hopeless, he 
surrendered. Cadogan, having lost ninety-seven men \ 
out of one hundred and forty, besides five officers, had 
surrendered some time before. 

Thus this curious and disjointed action came to an I 
end. Throughout its duration Whitelocke had been 
pacing up and down near his headquarters in deep 
anxiety. No reports reached him. So slovenly was 
the work of his staff that, though he never changed 

ch.xiii HISTORY OF THE ARMY 427 

his position throughout the day, not one of his Generals 1807. 
knew, except by conjecture, where he was to be found. J ul y 5- 
But this was of small importance, for no messenger 
from any one of the columns could have reached him 
alive. At nine o'clock he sent a stafF-officer down 
one of the central streets to ascertain what was going 
forward ; but the morning was too hazy to allow any- 
thing to be distinctly seen even from the house-tops ; 
and he therefore directed the column of the Carabiniers 
and Ninth Light Dragoons to advance towards the 
Great Square. The Dragoons moved forward accord- 
ingly, but were presently checked by a destructive fire, 
and after heavy losses fell back to a place of safety, 
and halted. Whitelocke then sent one of his aide-de- 
camps to try to find out the position of the attacking 
columns ; and he, after climbing to the top of the highest 
house open to him, was able to report at half-past eleven 
that British colours were flying on the left and on the 
right centre. Subsequent attempts of this officer to 
penetrate further into the town were fruitless ; and the 
endeavours of another officer to make his way towards 
the Residencia with a few mounted dragoons were 
likewise foiled. At last, between two and three o'clock, 
Whitelocke asked if any officer would volunteer to obtain 
news of Auchmuty. Thereupon Captain Whittingham, 
afterwards well known as one of our military agents in 
Spain, took an escort of about fifty mounted and dis- 
mounted men and, after much skirmishing with scattered 
bodies of the enemy, made his way to the Plaza de Toros. 
Having heard Auchmuty's report, he galloped back with 
the dragoons alone, and at half past four was able to 
give the General the first information that he had received 
of the day's work, namely, that Auchmuty had been 
successful, and that the Eighty-eighth had been captured. 
Of the fate of Craufurd nothing was known. In fact, 
with the exception of some motley bands of Spaniards 
which attempted a feeble attack upon the baggage-guard 
from the rear, Whitelocke had seen nothing either of 
the enemy or of his own troops during the day. 

428 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1807. Auchmuty had asked him through Whittingham to 
shift his headquarters to the Plaza de Toros at once ; ' 
but the General decided not to move, hoping that [ 
further intelligence might reach him during the night. I 
July 6. At half-past six on the following morning Whitting- t 
ham was dispatched with an escort of forty mounted 
and dismounted men to find the Reserve under 
Colonel Mahon, and to order him to move at once to 
the Corral. Mahon, pursuant to his directions, had 
marched from Reduction on the previous day, and 
finding the bridge over the Chuelo intact, had crossed ' 
that river at five in the evening, and encamped on the 1 
northern bank within two miles of the Residencia. 
Having delivered the message to him, Whittingham 
turned next to the Residencia itself, where he found 
Major Nichols of the Forty-fifth entirely confident of 
his power to hold his own, but unable to give any 
news of Craufurd. As if to verify Nichols's words, 
the Spaniards actually brought up cannon to batter the 
Residencia while Whittingham was there, whereupon 
the Major sallied out with a party of the Forty-fifth, 
drove them away with a single charge? and brought off 
two howitzers in triumph. But meanwhile, very soon 
after daylight, a letter had reached Whitelocke from 
General Liniers. The Spanish commander, after 
stating that he had captured General Craufurd and 
considerably over a thousand prisoners, offered to 
restore them and all the British soldiers captured since 
Beresford's first embarkation, if Whitelocke would 
withdraw all his troops from the province ; adding that 
if the offer were refused he would not, in view of the 
exasperation of the populace, be answerable for the !| 
safety of the prisoners. Whitelocke rejected the 
proposal, but suggested a truce of twenty-four hours 
for collection of the wounded : after which he and ! 
Gower rode down to join Auchmuty at the Plaza j 
de Toros. 

There the three Generals consulted together upon 
the situation. Whitelocke reckoned his losses in killed, 



wounded, and prisoners at twenty-five hundred men ; 1807. 
but he was below the mark. The killed numbered J ul Y 6. 
four hundred and one of all ranks ; the wounded six 
hundred and forty - nine ; the prisoners, several of 
whom were hurt, nineteen hundred and twenty-four, 
making a total of very nearly three thousand casualties, 1 
or more than half of the force engaged. On the other 
hand, the British had captured over a thousand prisoners 
and more than thirty guns ; they were in occupation 
of strong posts on each flank of the city ; and they had 
still an effective force of over six thousand of all ranks 
ready for further operations. But the troops had lost 
confidence in their commander ; and, apart from this 
significant fact, it was evident alike to Whitelocke, 
Gower, and Auchmuty that the conquest of the 
province was impossible. Moreover, even if Buenos 
Ayres were captured, it could only be held by a 
garrison of such strength as England could not dream 
of sparing. Gower was therefore sent to Liniers with 
instructions to obtain, if possible, an extension of time 
for the evacuation, and facilities for the British traders 
to dispose of their goods. A suspension of hostilities 
was proclaimed in the course of the afternoon ; and on 
the 7th a definite agreement was signed, to the effect July 7. 
that all prisoners on both sides were to be restored, and 
that the British should evacuate the province within 
ten days. Monte Video was excepted from this last 
provision, it being arranged that the place should be 
held by the British for two months, and then given 
back to the Spaniards uninjured and with its artillery 
intact. A proposal that liberty of commerce should 
be granted to British traders for four months was 
utterly rejected. 

Beyond all question the decision of Whitelocke was 
wise, the one instance indeed of wisdom that he had 

1 Killed . 15 officers, 386 n.c.o. and men. 
Wounded . 57 „ 592 „ 
Taken .94 „ 183 1 „ „ 
About 250 of the prisoners were wounded. 

430 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

1807. manifested during the campaign. But the troops, sore • 
at their maltreatment by an enemy whom they knew '• 
to be contemptible in the field, were furious with rage. 
" General Whitelocke is a coward or a traitor or both," [ 
were the words in which they wrote their opinion of : 
him on the walls of Buenos Ayres ; and the harsh : 
phrase was eagerly caught up by the multitude when r 
the bad news reached London. The English at home 1 
indeed had more than usual cause for exasperation. So 
humiliating a defeat, following so close upon the victory c 
of Maida, was in itself hard to bear ; but the pecuniary i 
loss which accompanied it was unendurable. There 1 
had been frantic speculation in the new market which 
Popham, in his vanity, had proclaimed to be open in * 
South America. Not prosperous merchants only, but 
large numbers of the needy, the rapacious, and the impe- 
cunious had staked their all, or their neighbours* all, in J 
the great venture ; and, as is usual in such cases, tons of 1 
rubbish, which could find no sale in any other quarter, 
had been shipped over to Buenos Ayres. Now it was ! 
seen that the long and perilous voyage had been 
undertaken in vain, and that the whijle of the goods 
exported, whether valuable or worthless, would be 
returned upon their owners' hands. There were loud 
calls for an inquiry, and Whitelocke was put on his 
trial by court-martial. The Court was a strong one. 
General Medows of East Indian fame was President ; 
and among the nineteen remaining members were 
Lake, Harris, Moore, Cathcart, David Dundas, and 
Henry Fox. It sat for thirty-one days. The charges 
were four in number : First, that Whitelocke had 
exasperated the spirit of resistance in the people of 
Buenos Ayres, by making excessive demands upon them 
when they seemed likely to come to terms ; secondly, 
that he had mishandled the whole of the military 
operations, particularly in attacking Buenos Ayres with 
unloaded arms ; thirdly, that he had made no effectual 
attempt to control or support the different columns 
during the attack ; and fourthly, that, when still in 

ii ch.xiii HISTORY OF THE ARMY 431 

e a position to have taken Buenos Ayres, in spite of 1807. 
? the heavy losses in the assault, he had deliberately 
preferred to evacuate the country. He was found 
" guilty upon all the charges, except that of prohibit- 
if ing all firing during the attack, and was sentenced 
h to be " cashiered and declared totally unfit and un- 
n worthy to serve His Majesty in any military capacity 
e whatever." 

0 The finding shows the strength of public feeling at the 
jf moment. The first charge may be dismissed as absurd : 
y the Spanish colonies on the Plate would have accepted 
e a British occupation on no terms except those which 
\ Whitelocke was expressly instructed to decline — in- 
dependence under British protection. The remaining 
charges cannot so lightly be passed over, but it must 
be admitted that the General's difficulties were enormous. 
Attention has already been called to the initial problem 
which was presented to him for solution, namely, 
whether he should attack at once or wait until 
September, as also to the unfortunate but inevitable 
delay in the ascent of the river by the transports of 
Craufurd's division. Allusion has also been made to 
the virtual impossibility of reconnoitring the country 
and obtaining intelligence, and especially to the 
obstacles which beset all arrangements for transport 
and supply. Whitelocke was fortunate in effecting 
his debarkation unmolested ; but the risk which he 
encountered was so great as to be justifiable only by 
the result. Had he refused, as very reasonably he 
might have done, to incur the hazard, the alternative 
was to disembark far away from the city and to make 
a long march by land, in which case it is hard to see 
how he could have fed his army. The fleet was indeed 
in the river, but the river was practically an inland sea, 
very shallow near the shore, yet dangerous for small 
craft in rough weather, and with few safe inlets to 
shelter them. No operation could seem simpler upon 
paper than that the Army should have marched parallel 
to the shore, drawing its supplies from the fleet, which 



1807. should have moved on a level with it; but none was 
in actual fact more impracticable. 

On the other hand, it must also be admitted that the I 

man did not make the best of his very difficult task. He - 

seems on this occasion to have had no self-reliance, and I 

to have leaned wholly upon Gower who, it is abundantly fl 

evident, was as conceited as he was unpractical, and as ■ 

overbearing as he was incompetent. Gower has been \ 

rightly called the evil genius of the expedition ; but t 

a strong and able Commander-in-chief would have left 0 

him at Monte Video, in defiance of the fact that he t 

had been specially appointed by the Secretary of State t 

for War. 1 Far from that, Whitelocke seems to have t 

been torn by doubts whether to bully or to court him, t 

with the result that Gower obtained his own way on t 

every point, and mismanaged everything. The marches t 

were contrived so as to harass the men to the utmost, 1 

and the final attack upon Buenos Ayres was simply ( 

fatuous. The avowed intention was to seize two 1 

strong positions upon the flank of the city, which ] 
indeed was actually effected ; but why the men should 

have been marched through the sheets in thirteen 1 

small columns upon these two points is absolutely 1 

inexplicable. Whitelocke was sensible enough to see 1 

the danger of such a proceeding, but not strong enough 1 

to steer clear of it. For reasons best known to him- i 

self, he yielded to Gower ; and Gower, as usual, did his i 

worst for his chief. Great outcry was raised against i 
Whitelocke for not accompanying his army in the 
attack and for renouncing all control of it. He 
replied that at his headquarters he was as accessible to 
the army at large as at any other place ; and this was 
undeniable, for if a commander deliberately divides his 
force into thirteen parts, and thrusts each of these into 
a blind alley from which its retreat can easily be cut 
off, the chances are decidedly in favour of his losing 

1 Gower thought himself specially beholden to Windham for 
his appointment, and went so far as to write to him an apology for 
the failure of the campaign. Gower to Windham, 9th July 1807. 

ch.xiii HISTORY OF THE ARMY 433 

all communication with at least twelve of them. This 1807. 
might have been foreseen, and provision might have 
been made in orders for the contingency. Some code 
of signals could have been arranged ; and, above all, 
Mahon's reserve might have been brought up under 
the Commander-in-chief s hand to act at any point 
where its assistance was needed. But Gower was 
purblind and incapable, and Whitelocke was helpless 
to correct him. The written orders were meagre and 
obscure ; and Gower worse confounded the confusion 
that he made, by issuing supplementary verbal orders 
to certain individual leaders without imparting them to 
the rest. The comment of a Spanish General upon 
the assault and the defence is the hardest condemna- 
tion to be found of Whitelocke's conduct. " Half 
the number of troops which attacked this capital would 
make themselves masters of it, supposing the same 
defenders, equally armed and disciplined. ... I will 
rather say that ten thousand English sheep came to 
present their throats to the knife." 1 

It is interesting to note that Whitelocke threw the 
blame of the main disaster upon Craufurd and Pack, 
who, instead of wheeling outwards in pursuance of their 
orders, deliberately wheeled inward upon the fort. 
Craufurd, for his part, retorted upon Whitelocke the 
accusation that the Commander-in-chief had abandoned 
him. There was some ground for complaint on both 
sides. Mention has already been made of the omission 
of an important but unintelligible clause from 
Craufurd's copy of the orders ; but, apart from this, 
Robert Craufurd was not remarkable at any period of 
his career for excessive deference to the commands of 
his superiors. Again, his rejection of Pack's advice 
to retire to the Residencia, after the failure of Pack's 
own preliminary attack, was extremely characteristic of 
the man. On the other hand, Auchmuty had equally 
disobeyed the written orders ; and, since Craufurd had 
penetrated to the river unopposed, it was reasonable 
1 Castlereagh Desp. vii. 402. 
VOL. V 2 F 

434 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

i 807. for him to assume that Whitelocke required more of 
him than merely to take refuge at the Residencia. 
The enemy's force was supposed to be concentrated about 
the Great Square. Presumably Whitelocke intended to 
attack it from both flanks ; otherwise why had columns 
been sent through all the streets, and why had not 
the Light Brigade been sent direct together with the 
Forty-fifth to the Residencia ? If the British gunboats 
were intended to co-operate in the final attack, the 
guns of the fort must first have been silenced by the 
army, for they could not be reached, owing to shallow 
water, by the cannon of the fleet. Craufurd in fact 
argued as if Whitelocke, or Gower in Whitelocke's 
stead, had actually formed a plan of operations ; 
whereas, as a matter of fact, they had formed none. 
They simply directed the columns to enter the town, 
expecting little resistance, and left the rest to chance. 
In brief, they made the mistake which, though old as 
human nature, seems unhappily to enjoy perpetual 
youth, of undervaluing their enemy. 

As to the question of renewing the attack on the 
6th or 7th, in conjunction with the fle^t and with the 
help of guns landed from it, there seems to, be no 
reasonable doubt that the operation was feasible and 
would have ensured the capture of Buenos Ayres. 
Indeed, according to the Spanish General already quoted, 
if the British had merely maintained and fortified them- 
selves in the positions which they had already mastered, 
the inhabitants must have laid down their arms within 
four days from lack of provisions. 1 But, even if the city 
had been taken, either by bombardment or by blockade, 
the fact would hardly have reconciled the Spaniards to 
British rule. Moreover, even when captured, it would 
have been, at best, difficult of defence against a hostile 
population. All supplies except from the river would 
have been cut off ; the entire country would have been 
closed to the British ; and, in case of a retreat, re- 
embarkation would have been extremely difficult and 
1 Castkreagh Desp. vii. 400. 



hazardous, for no channels or docks had been dredged i 
out for Buenos Ayres in those days, and consequently 
there were no quays. The troops must therefore have 
evacuated the city in boats ; and those boats could not 
have been covered by the guns of the fleet, for the 
men-of-war could not safely lie nearer than four or 
five miles from the shore. A re-embarkation from 
Point Quilmes would have been still more difficult, 
and the retreat thither from the city most dangerous. 
Beyond all doubt, therefore, Whitelocke did right to 
come early to terms with Liniers ; and, though it may 
well be that his sagacity in coming to this decision was 
quickened by discouragement, it must be remembered 
that he had served for long in St. Domingo, and had 
observed the failure of an expedition, conducted upon 
much the same principles, in that quarter. From the 
military point of view, the only satisfactory feature in 
the campaign was the good behaviour of the troops 
in the assault. 

It remains to pass judgment upon the Ministers 
who sent Whitelocke away upon his mad and im- 
possible errand. Enough has already been said to show 
that they acted in complete ignorance or misconception 
of the true condition of affairs on the Rio de la Plata. 
No ignorance or misconception, however, can excuse 
the absurdity of the orders originally given to Craufurd, 
nor the contradictory injunctions addressed to White- 
locke. He was to reduce the province of Buenos Ayres 
by force of arms and exile the authors of the insurrection 
which had overthrown Beresford ; and yet he was 
to consider that his main object was not to distress or 
annoy the enemy but only to occupy a portion of his 
territory. Again, he was to attach the inhabitants 
to British rule, but was forbidden to give them assurance 
of British protection against the vengeance of Old Spain 
after the conclusion of peace. These astonishing 
orders emanated from the Ministry of all the Talents ; 
and one is tempted to imagine the wit and sarcasm 
with which they would have been criticised by Windham 

436 HISTORY OF THE ARMY book xiii 

i 807. if they had been addressed to him by Whitelocke 
instead of to Whitelocke by his accomplished self. 
Nevertheless, the extreme difficulties of Ministers must 
not be overlooked. It should be remembered that 
Popham had committed them, without their know- 
ledge or consent, to the extravagant venture against 
Buenos Ayres. They duly recalled Popham in dis- 
grace, as we have seen, and tried him by court-martial ; 
but the Commodore escaped with a severe reprimand, 
and was almost immediately employed again upon an 
important service. This was utterly wrong, for he 
ought to have been dismissed the Navy. But 
Popham had succeeded in enlisting the cupidity of 
England in his favour ; the pressure of public opinion 
was difficult to resist ; and, as has already been said, 
the temptation to neutralise Napoleon's Continental 
blockade by opening new markets in South America 
was extremely strong. Glory, popularity, and pros- 
perity all seemed bound to follow upon success ; and 
the enterprise commended itself heartily to the gambling 
spirit of the nation. But gambling should not have 
been confounded with statesmanship. 

Again, if Ministers were resolved to play a game in 
which the chances, on the mere showing of common sense, 
lay very heavily on the side of failure, they might at least 
have shunned the additional risk of appointing an 
untried commander. Far from doing so, they actually 
displaced the capable Auchmuty in favour of the 
incapable Whitelocke ; thus proving themselves to be 
not only bad administrators but bad gamblers. Never- 
theless, by the irony of fate, their mismanagement was 
the salvation of England. It was worth the humilia- 
tion, the loss of brave men and the expense of money 
to be freed once for all from the fatal entanglement of 
a permanent and precarious occupation on the Rio de 
la Plata. If the indignant shade of Whitelocke still 
broods over the fortune of many British Generals who, 
though no less deserving of disgrace than himself, have 
escaped court-martial and cashierment, it may at least 

ch. xiii HISTORY OF THE ARMY 437 

find consolation in the thought that the evacuation of 1807. 
South America after his defeat was a wise, true, and 
courageous service to his country, worthy to rank with 
Thomas Maitland's happy evacuation of St. Domingo. 

Authorities. — The reports of Whitelocke's court-martial con- 
stitute the principal authority for the expedition to Buenos Ayres ; 
that of Gurney (2 vols. 1808) is preferable to that of Blanchard, 
and Ramsay (1 vol. 1808), being rather fuller and containing far 
better maps. Any statement for which I have quoted no authority 
may be accepted as based upon these reports. My references are 
to Blanchard's edition, which is the more easily accessible, and 
are indicated by the letters C. M. The official despatches (W. O. 
Orig. Corres. 161, 162) contain little of importance that is un- 
printed. There is useful material in An Authentic Narrative of 
the Proceedings of the Expedition under Brig.-Gen. Craufurd (1 vol. 
1 808, Lond.), and in the numbers of Colburne's Military Magazine, 
April to December, 1836. There are also a few details in the Life 
of Sir Samuel Whittingham, and in the Journal of a Soldier of the 
Seventy-first (Edinburgh, 18 19). The best extant account of the 
expedition as a whole is to be found in Captain Lewis Butler's 
article in the United Service Magazine for June, July, and August 
1905. Though I do not always endorse the opinions therein 
advanced, I have found the narrative to be of great value ; and 
I must gratefully acknowledge also the advantage which I have 
derived from oral discussion of the campaign with the author. 


Printed by R. & R. Clark, Limited, Edinburgh. 

Emery Walker sc. 



April -May, 1804 

Scale, 1:95,000 
English Miles 

Longitude West 55° of Greenwich 

EmeryWalker sc. 




3034 4 


Monie Daniel ' " j 
F/-ei;efi landing V- REDOUBT 

FEB. 22.1805 




Scale, 1:300,000 

012345 10 

English Miles 

2 3 4 5 

Heights in feet 4672 

FEB. 2 2 



Longitude West 61 20 of Greenwich 

Emery Walker sc. 

*Hameln °Hilde S heim 

'IP □□□□□Q-L 

MONTE VIDEO y 1 ^^^ 

February, 1807 | 




Expeditions of 1806-7 






_J ■ J ! i _l i I . lLJ,y '&jj*'. 

J L: □ U L J LJitoiLj li 

Church of LaT 




July 1807 

Fromaplanby D.Pedro Cervino, dated 1814 

Scale, 1:26,000 

Scale o£ one Mile 

H '4 * ^ 

..' ! ' t v° "-Bridge °" ° ' .<^- - . ■ £ L--°- 'xV , 

Meridian o° of Greenwich '°° Longitude East 20° of Gi 

By the Hon. J. W. FORTESCUE 



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UNITED SEE VICE MAGAZINE.—" The author of the Histmy of the British Army 
writes always up to a standard so high that few other military writers can compete with him, 
either in excellence of the literary style, or in the professional value of what is written. . . . 
No praise . . . could exaggerate its real merits." 


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oiNUmu sect. OCT 2 8 1982 



DA Fortescue, (Sir) John 

50 William 

F65 A history of the British 

v.5 army